Knowledge Pack : Gender
This Knowledge Pack contains Indigenous Knowledge cases and other useful information related to the Gender. The indigenous knowledge pack is a tool that provides users with quick access to synthesized information by country or selected thematic area.
|Business and Trade|
law and women's access to land ownership
|Food and Agriculture||Long
term storage of cassava for drought periods and harvest failures
Uttar Pradesh Sodic Lands Reclamation Project in building on IK increases agricultural production
Child Delivery in Nso
Mitigating the spread of HIV/AIDS through changed sexual practices
Dogon use contraceptive plants to tackle the issue of young unwed-mothers and for family planning purposes
Postpartum maternal and child health care rites and observances among the Igbo of Southeastern Nigeria
Self-managed health clinics in the Senegalese countryside improve health of children
Telecenter in Uganda connects local communities to the global knowledge
Traditional birth attendants using some information technologies contribute to reduction of maternal mortality
from Kinshasa and other African cities often use the system called "tontine":
a mutual in which several persons contribute to a fund; at the end of a determined
period the fund is divided among them by rotation in the form of payment of
capital or an annuity. However, given constant currency devaluation and depreciation,
these women have chosen to use goods instead of money, which could be a dress,
a wash basin, a freezer, a stove, and goods or commodities to start a business.
Thus, they end up deciding not the amount of cash subscription but the reference
good. This practice is also being used by African women living in Europe,
and allows them to acquire an item or goods in spite of each one's limited
Lesson: Using goods instead of money to cope with constant money devaluation and depreciation may enable tontine members to acquire goods at least cost .
Source: Groupe de Recherche et d'Expertise sur le Développement des Savoir-faire Locaux en Afrique, (Montpellier, France).
Small industry development for women.
In 1990 in the Goughin district of Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, a group of women formed their own group "Song Taaba" to collect venture capital amounting to 150,000 CFA francs ($300) from their own members. They started processing shea butter, "soumbala", soap and peanut butter; marketing their own products; and keeping accounts and minutes by using their new skills. Literacy training had provided the institutional framework for an important women's initiative, but it hadn't given participants the skills required for management and development of a business activity of this sort. Lacking confidence in their own practical skills, the newly literate members chose the initial staff for the enterprise from women who had either attended primary school them-selves or who had daughters in primary or secondary school able to assist them in their work. This solution did not work well, however, and bit by bit the newly literate members took over the management positions. The group obtained official cooperative status in 1992, and in 1995 marketed twelve tons of soumbala, among its other products. Song Taaba is currently in the process of establishing a network of women's groups across the central part of the country to collaborate in the promotion of each other's products. At the same time, they have extended their literacy program to provide a greater number of their members with the skills they need to play an active role in the business.
Lesson: Business oriented women realize the value of literacy for better management.
Source: University of Florida, IK-Notes (to be published)
has experienced a severe economic recession during the past thirteen years,
characterized by falling farmer incomes, population pressure on limited farmland,
and retrenchments in the public sector, salary cuts and a 50% devaluation
of the CFA franc in January 1994. This has made it difficult for both urban
and rural households. Faced with this situation, women sought for alter-native
in-come earning avenues in handicrafts. They include, for instance, footwear,
bags and soap making. These items are not new, but the inventiveness in their
production and variety makes the difference. The women produce soap using
locally available palm oil and caustic soda. A variety of bags (school bags,
handbags, shopping bags) and slippers is produced by using locally available
material. Old sisal bags, cartons, plastic paper, thread and wool, are collected
and recycled. Only the soles for slippers are paid for, The cost of production
is very low. Products compete well with manufactured or imported goods, because
they are not only different but also much cheaper. Proceeds from selling these
products constitute an important supplement to family income.
Lesson: Women respond immediately to household needs and demonstrate their creative spirit in seeking local solutions to problems.
Source: D.N. Ngwasiri; CIKO
Customary law and women's access to land ownership.
Customary law does not allow women access to land ownership. They are allowed to exploit land only temporarily on their husband's behalf. While the terms of the formal law,"Reorganisation Agraire et Fonciere au Burkina Faso" gives access to land ownership to everyone, women continue to be discriminated against especially in rural areas by traditional law.
Lesson: Women who constitute more than half the population in many African countries and who perform most of the housework and farming should be allowed to enjoy land ownership by customary law.
Source: DAKIE, Arbre et Développement, Direction de la Foresterie
Villageoise et de l'Aménagement Forestier, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso,
AD n°23, 4e trimestre, 1998
The Simba Maasai community located in the Ngong Hills of Kenya decided to document local heritage and educate their children about their traditions. The community formed an NGO called SIMOO. Independently of any outside help SIMOO has set up a museum in the village for the preservation of the local material culture. On display are traditional artifacts such as food storage bags, shields, textiles, jewelry, crafts, medicinal plants and other products used for ceremonies. Part of the exhibition is mobile and can be easily transported to neighboring villages to educate children about their heritage. Women produce and sell artifacts to museum visitors to support their incomes. A special project of the museum seeks to conserve local trees and document their medicinal values through an arboretum and botanical garden. A stone plate at the foot of each tree documents the name of the tree, its medicinal use, and diseases cured; from malaria to diarrhea. The information is carved in stone in Maasai and English language. Replicating this example would contribute to the conservation not only of trees but also to some of the 2,500 languages spoken in Africa today.
Lesson: Documentation holds the key to the preservation of IK and
provides a means for educating the young on its cultural and developmental
Source: Simba Maasai Village Museum.
In Niger, according to official statistics, only one third of the children attend school, and the rate of school attendance for girls is even lower (25.3 percent). Several reasons, most notably socioeconomic and cultural, explain this rate which is particularly low in rural areas. Most parents generally agree with the idea of schooling for children. However, many continue to see school as a "den of iniquity" for girls. Others think that school does not properly prepare girls for their future roles as mothers and wives, and in rural areas, attending school is perceived as an interference with girls marrying at the appropriate age (usually 12 or 13). On March 8-9, 2000, a national symposium financed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on "The role of traditional chieftains in the survival, protection and development of women and children" brought together some 200 traditional leaders (provincial, district and village chiefs). One outcome of the conference was that the traditional chiefs agreed to develop strategies to persuade their communities to send their daughters to school. They will explain that the more education girls get, the easier it will be for them later, both economically and socially, and that educated women manage family finances and small businesses better, and can contribute to the success of their children in school. According to the coordinator of the Technical Unit to Promote Girl's Education (CTPSF) set up by the government of Niger, with actions of this kind, 40 percent of girls could be attending school by the end of 2000.
Lesson: Traditional leaders, because of their moral and religious authority, can influence their communities in achieving development goals that necessitate behavioral change.
Source: Souleymane Anza, IPS, and Global Information Network: Mai Manga Therese, CTPSF (Comité Technique pour la Promotion de la Scolarité des Filles), Ministère de l'éducation, Niamey, Niger; and, Unicef - West and Central Africa, Boite Postale 443, Abidjan 04, République de Côte d'Ivoire, tel : (225)20.213.131
In June 1997 the women of Malicounda, Senegal attended a non-formal education program led by TOSTAN, a local NGO. Inspired by the training, they decided to abandon the practice of female genital cutting. They convinced the village council to abolish the practice officially. Not satisfied with this result, they launched a locally impelled movement. They created a team (including a few of their husbands) to visit neighboring villages. They spoke to women there and helped them win the support of their communities. The women also convinced the traditional leaders, including the Imam of Malicounda, to support their agenda and became involved actively as change agents. In January 1998, in the "Declaration of Malicounda" a congress of 18 village leaders from the region committed to abandon the practice. Soon after, President Abdou Diouf of Senegal endorsed the "Oath of Malicounda" as a model for national adoption. As of March 2001, this grass roots movement had spread to more than 200 communities nationwide and several other communities in other countries as well.
Lesson: Traditional leaders and women's group working together is an efficient way to end harmful cultural practices.
IK-Notes No. 3
External Link: IK-Notes No. 3 and 31
Maasai women are the creative designers of beautiful in beadwork and art, while warriors are their models. As girls, they make attractive beadwork for the armbands, shoulder straps legs bands and waists strings of their lover warriors. As young married women, they design beadwork ornaments for warriors earrings, sword belts and engraving of their bodies with tribal marks. They design and pattern their own necklaces in several sizes and fashions. They make beadwork embroidery of their clothing, those of warriors and other clients from non-Maasai neighboring communities or even tourists. As mothers, they design waist belts of their daughters colorfully decorated in beadwork. They decorate calabashes where cows milk is to be stored before used. As elderly women, they become custodians and guardians of beadwork apprenticeship. Maasai women in beadwork exhibit distinctive skill and artfulness.
Lesson: Based on these skills in decorative art providing Maasai
women with opportunities to work also on modern fabrics would provide them
with additional income and thus increase alleviate their social and economic
Source: MARECIK, Tan-zania Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Megha Majmudar "Beauty and Beadwork among the Maasai " (1998)
Boys and girls are brought up to prepare them for multiple marriages and polygamy.
Polygamy and multiple marriage are a pattern in Maasai culture to increase productive labor force in a household. Young men are brought up to accumulate many cattle to afford to marry more than one woman. Young women are brought up to choose different warriors as boyfriends in such a pattern that many girls happen to share one warrior (and vice versa). The intensity of such relation-ships varies according to the choosing of those involved. These early multiple relationships are considered a preparation to maintain a harmonious and productive family and household community in a polygamous marriage arrangement.
Lesson: Health workers need to be aware of such arrangements when dealing with STD related awareness campaigns.
Source: MARECIK, Tanzania Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Amy McCormick, "Threads of Women's Lives: Co-wife relations in Maasailand" (1998)
The Balong of Cameroon, have a traditional technology of processing cassava (Manihot esculenta) into a product called Kumkum that can be preserved for up to five years. Freshly harvested roots are peeled, washed and steeped in water and left to stand for three to five days during which natural fermentation takes place and the tuberous roots are softened. They are removed and ground into a fine paste, then placed in a cane basket and covered with plantain leaves. Heavy objects such as stones are piled on the pulp to drain off excess liquor. Some 200-300 grams are hand-molded into round balls and placed on a platform which is hung over the hearth to dry out gradually. Due to constant fire at the site, the balls gradually are coated with smoke. During the storage period, which varies from one to five years, the product is hardly ever attacked by pests or disease. When needed, the black coating on the balls is scraped off. They are then re-pounded into fine flour, which is reconstituted with hot water into dough, and eaten with soup or vegetable stew.
methods of storage can be explored for disaster preparedness.
Source: Dr. Festus Numfor; CIKO
Agricultural production in Uttar Pradesh (UP) declined dramatically in the 1980s. Inappropriate irrigation practices salinated soils, brown plant hoppers destroyed 40% - 60% of paddy and wheat crops. The state agricultural extension service's land reclamation campaigns were unsuccessful. In 1993, the UP Land Development Corporation (UPLDC) launched a farmer driven Sodic Lands Reclamation Project (SLRP), supported by the Bank. Farmers created local site implementation committees (SICs) and self help groups (SHGs) and reclaimed over 68,000 hectares belonging to 247,000 families. Women SHGs generated income with poultry farming and horticulture. Farmers built on traditional knowledge: they reclaimed the land through gypsum application, bunding, irrigating, leaching and plowing, reduced plant hopper destruction to less than 5% with Neem extracts, green manure and rice husks and improved soil fertility with multi-cropping, composting and animal care. Agricultural yields and incomes consequently rose 60% between 1993 -2000. These practices were institutionalized and widely disseminated through a local farmers school. Today, the state has begun to hand over training and extension services to local farmers' schools, which reach more than 7,200 farmers in 65 villages beyond the project area.
Lesson: Building on IK increases sustainable agricultural production and provides a model for transferring service delivery to communities.
Source: UP Land Development Corporation
A traditional birth attendant from Mbinon village in Nso, Bui Division, North West Province of Cameroon reports on the use of two kinds of leaves to facilitate childbirth. The first is the leaf of a plant of the family Malvaceae, which she uses for ordinary cases. The second is the leaf of a plant in the family Acanthacae, which she applies on women with case histories of difficult deliveries and women expecting their first babies. When the freshly harvested leaves are diluted, the liquid is spread in the labour room. A quarter of the liquid is drunk by the expectant mother while a portion of it is massaged onto the expectant mother's waist, belly and pubic region. This administration increases contraction of the uterus and the dilatation of the cervix during labour, thereby facilitating delivery. If the placenta fails to detach and flow out within a reasonable time, the expectant mother chews the herbs and swallows their juice. The success rates are reported to be extraordinarily high.
Lesson: Traditional birth methods are affordable for even the poorer members of the community and could be used complementing modern medicine.
Source: Mankoiy Martha Fangfo, Nso , Dr. Wirmum Clare Kinyuy, Mefopla Re-search Center; CIKO
In Vinayak Nagar, a low income area of Hyderabad city, women's health groups and community revolving funds have enabled - perhaps for the first time, women living in slums to finance improvements in their neighborhoods such as sanitation systems, wells, and toilets, and to establish income generation schemes. The project has succeeded in attracting a high level of NGO and community participation and has shown strong health-related results. There are 22 NGOs delivering family planning and maternal and child health services to 662 slums in the city. Volunteer groups are also involved in AIDS awareness programs, targeting in particular, vulnerable groups such as adult women and adolescent girls. They use group peer pressure to encourage safe sex practices in the community and lobby to change sexual behavior. Thousands of community members have benefited from the project's innovative schemes, such as workshops for first-time mothers, nutrition education programs for girls, and nursery schools for children. Encouraged by the success of these efforts, the government and the World Bank agreed to extend the project to urban slums in 94 smaller towns in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal.
Lesson: This is an example of NGO-sponsored women's health groups mitigating the spread of HIV/AIDS through changed sexual practices.
Source: World Bank, India (Country Office)
The Dogon of Mali from the village of Guinoubanou (district of Kani Gogouno in the Bandiagara region) use a plant-based contraceptive method dating from ancient times. The Dogon are sensitive to the issue of unwed-mothers who would tarnish the family image, and are also concerned by women's health. Women are considered an essential pillar in the family structure. For these reasons, girls are pushed by their parents into practicing a traditional form of birth control. They are given an herbal preparation to take on their first menstruation day each month. This plant-based medicine is also used by women who have just given birth to aid their recovery and for the practice of child-spacing. The Tapily family in the village of Guinoubanou has been the keepers of this knowledge for generations.
Lesson: Traditional family planning methods, when they exist and are safe, should be acknowledged, improved and promoted by development organizations.
Source: Association Malienne pour les Connaissances Traditionnelles (AMACOTRA) BPE 2666, ACI 2000 Avenue Cheikh Zayed, Bamako, Mali, Tel:(223) 29 1504
During a four-week period after birth called 'Omugwo'" the mother and the child are secluded and relieved from all other chores they are cared for by the grandmother of the newborn. The new mother is given a stimulating hot soup made with dried fish meat yams plenty of pepper and a special herbal seasoning called 'udah' which makes the uterus contract and thus helps in expelling of blood clots. The diet helps to restore blood lost during childbirth to restore energy facilitated the healing of wounds and restores normal bodily functions and promotes lactation. For a first time mother the time is utilized to receive parental and house keeping practices from her mother.
Lesson: Health care programs need to acknowledge the 'Omugwo' rites and integrate them in their assistance strategies.
Source: Obikeze, D. S. IK K Monitor 5(2) 1997 CIRAN
group of women in the village of Saam Njaay in the region of Senegal established
a program of "baby-weighing" and maternal health. Building on the
contribution of materials by a philanthropic organization and the support
of some husbands, they extended the program to more than 15 villages in the
small region, where pregnant women and mothers of young infants could visit
the infirmary for consultations and medical visits. The group gradually expanded
its functions to a complete sys-tem of preventive medicine, first aid, and
referral to the regional dispensary as needed. Its personnel maintained such
detailed files on consultation and treatment that it was possible, beginning
in 1996, for the group to conduct its own statistical analysis retracing the
incidence and evolution of infantile disease in the zone; the results demonstrated
a net improvement on several important
Lesson: Relying on local organizations helps to integrate traditional and modern health systems to improve primary health care.
Source: Peter Easton, Florida State University, IK-Notes (to be published)
Located 50 kilometers north of Kampala, Uganda, in a remote village, the Nakaseke Multi-Purpose Community Tele-center has introduced new information and communication technologies (ICTs) to this rural area. It has provided internet, telephone and fax services that are being utilized to conduct local business activities. Computer training has provided jobs for the youth, who now have access to a fully-fledged library with major international journals and books. Farmers now have access to real time commodity prices, without having to go to Kampala. With assistance from extension workers, the Tele-center captures and disseminates innovative banana weevil control methods, developed in a nearby village. The IK Program has provided technical and content assistance to help develop a series of projects that utilize the knowledge and expertise of local communities particularly in the fields of education, gender and healthcare. The staff at Nakaseke are part of the national steering committee on IK supported by the Bank. This has enabled various stakeholders such as traditional healers to use ICTs to access patients and medical supplies from different parts of the country.
Lesson: ICTs can be an effective means of connecting local communities in remote areas to the global knowledge economy to improve their livelihoods.
Source: IK Notes no. 27
External Link: IK notes no. 27
The Rural Extended Services and Care for Ultimate Emergency Relief (RESCUER) pilot project launched in March 1996, in Iganga District, Uganda, addresses the problem of high maternal mortality. The project helped empower a network of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) to partner with the public health service centers (PHC) to deliver health care to pregnant women. This resulted in increased and more timely patient referrals as well as the delivery of health care to a larger number of pregnant women. Modern technology was used to enable the TBAs to refer patients to the PHCs. This involved the installation of a solar powered VHF radio communication system that included fixed base stations at the PHCs, mobile 'walkie talkies' with the TBAs, and vehicle radios in the referral hospital ambulances and the District Medical Officer's vehicle. A notable impact of the project was that Maternal mortality declined by more than 50% over a period of three years.
Lesson: Enabling and empowering Traditional Birth Attendants can increase the reach of public health services and reduce the incidence of maternal mortality.
Source: The Challenge and opportunities of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the health sector by Maria G. N. Musoke, prepared for the African Development Forum (ADF) '99; Maria G. N. Musoke, Makerere University, Uganda.
to the Addresses of Other IK Centers and CIRAN's IK-Pages
Nuffic/CIRAN IK Development Monitor and Addresses of Other IK Centers
|In Ghana, the Northern Savanna Biodiversitiy Conservation Project (NSBC)|
|seeks to improve the environment, livelihood and health of communities through sustainable natural resource management. Conserving and cultivating medicinal plants ensures their adequate supply and utilization by women, healers, and pastoralists. Funds will be provided to strengthen and upgrade the Ministry of Health's (MOH) Traditional Medicine Directorate. A recent enactment by Parliament of a Traditional Medicine Practices Bill recognizes the important role traditional knowledge plays in providing primary healthcare. .|
|In Eritrea, the Integrated Early Childhood Development Project (IECDP)|
|In Eritrea, the Integrated Early Childhood Development Project (IECDP) seeks to improve child health, child and maternal nutrition, early childhood education and care. The project includes a framework for the identification, validation, collection, storage and dissemination of IK related to early childhood development and the design of a database of such practices to facilitate their exchange among local communities and across the region..|
|In India, the Population Project VIII helps to reduce HIV/AIDS|
|In India, the Population Project VIII helps to reduce HIV/AIDS in Vinayak Nagar, a low-income area of Hyderabad city. Community revolving funds have enabled - perhaps for the first time - women living in slums to finance improvements in their neighborhoods such as sanitation systems, wells, and toilets, and to establish income generation schemes. There are 22 NGOs delivering family planning and maternal and child health services to 662 slums in the city. Volunteer women health workers are involved in HIV/AIDS awareness programs. They apply group peer pressure to promote changes in sexual behavior. Encouraged by the success of these efforts, the government and the Bank has agreed to extend the project to urban slums in 94 smaller towns in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal..|
In India, the Sodic Lands Reclamation Project (SLRP)
|is a farmer-driven effort to improve soil fertility and reduce the incidence of brown plant hoppers that destroy 40%-50% of paddy and wheat. Applying their own knowledge and experiences, farmers reclaimed over 68,000 hectares of land belonging to 247,000 families. Women self help groups spread gypsum, built bunds, leached the soil, started multi-cropping and green manuring and crop rotation, used compost and plowed the land. Farmers controlled brown plant hoppers with neem extract, rice husk and green manure. After five years, wheat and paddy yields and incomes had risen by 60%. A local farmers' school incorporated these practices into its curriculum and outreach work. Today, farmers train and advise their fellow-farmers, reaching more than 7,200 households in 65 villages.|
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and the above subjects.
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Tel : (221-8) 22.42.29 / 21.60.27
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Indigenous Knowledge for Development Link to the Homepage of the
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IK Notes Newsletter Link to the IK Notes of the Indigenous Knowledge for Development Program of the Africa Region
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Please send feedback or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Should you know of other indigenous knowledge practices that have helped or may help to improve Bank programs, please share them with us. We will enter your contribution into the IK-Database.
Should you know of other indigenous knowledge practices that have helped or may help to improve Bank programs, please share them with us. We will enter your contribution into the IK-Database.
You could structure your contribution by using the following format:
1. Country:Where is the practice applied (country and location)?
In which sector is the practice applied (agriculture, health, social development etc.)?
What technology (e.g. soil erosion control, childcare, institutional development etc.)?
4. Bearers of Knowledge:
By whom is the practice applied (e.g. Washambaa, local healers, women's group of a given village etc.)?
5. Source: Where can we inquire further?
Primary provider information (probably yourself or your institution)
Secondary providers of information
Add references to literature, web sites, names of individuals or organizations that can corroborate the practice.
Include addresses of primary and secondary providers of information.
6. Descriptive headline of practice:
One to two lines capturing the main features of a practice.
Describe the main features of the practice and explain (not more than 200 words).
Answer three key questions related to efficacy and impact of the practice.
- Why it is important for the local community?
- Why might it be beneficial to other communities?
- Why should development organizations learn more about this practice?
9. Methods used to capture information:
How was the practice identified, recorded and documented?
The IK database is an open, on-line resource for information on indigenous
knowledge practices. The database acts as a referral system and does not disclose
the technical details of practices or applications. Most practices in the
database have been reported elsewhere in publicly accessible information sources.
As is the principle of a referral database the provider of information could
be asked by users of the database to provide further information or pointers
as regards details of the practice. It is to the discretion of the provider
of information and the inquirer to negotiate the terms of the exchange of
knowledge. No information provided will be made public without the consent
of the provider.