Gender Needs


Since women and men play different roles, have differential access to and control over resources and face different types of constraints, they usually have different needs and priorities. When planing development interventions, it is often assumed that household members have the same needs. In these cases, women's needs are often not expressed

Practical gender needs (PGN): Need related to the women; men and children play in society. Activities which address the practical needs of women include a) reducing their workload; b) increasing their incomes, among others. (OXFAM; 1995 41). PGN do not address the subordinate position of women in society; therefore, they are not directly linked with women's empowerment.

Strategic gender needs (SGN): A need that questions the traditional roles that women and men play in society. SGN is a response to inequalities in decision-making positions and long-term benefits (Moser, C.; 1989 36 ). Addressing the strategic needs of both women and men requires long-term planning, and requires work with both to bring about changes in gender relations. Activities which address strategic gender needs include: a) achieving equality of legal rights such as land tenure; b) improving access to productive resources; c) enhancing participation in decision-making; d) acquiring equal opportunities in employment; e) taking up positions of power; and f) gaining the right to participate in decisions about development interventions.


Some 70 percent of full-time farmers in Malawi are women and one third of rural households are headed by women; yet women have less access than men to agricultural extension, credit, technology or inputs. As a result, they comprise a large portion of the rural poor and are less able than other farmers to cope with the consequences of drought. The needs of such women, especially those of rural households headed by women, should be addressed in both an emergency free distributions of maize and food-for-work, development projects.

If WFP is going to introduce a gender-sensitive, community-based policy concerning food distribution, it will be necessary to avoid a static perspective on what constitutes the differential needs of men and women. It must also consider the different requirement of women and men at different stages of the life cycle. In this respect, the elderly children and adolescents are also part of a gender-sensitive approach that acknowledges the differential needs of a population.

In Guatemala the participation of women as full members in the sectoral committees is effective. The needs of to the extent that the existing assistance fits their needs.