Gender analysis in technical co-operation projects
Case study: Gender Impact Assessment: The
Case of Project WISE
Improving Working Conditions and Productivity in Small Enterprise (WISE) is a project of the Government of the Philippines, with UNDP funding and ILO technical support. The executing agency is the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and its Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) manages Project WISE. WISE is implemented in four regions, namely the National Capital Region (NCR), Region 4, Region 7 and Region 11, by DOLE's Regional Offices. The three-year project, which started late in 1993, has been extended up to 1998. It builds on a pilot by DOLE's Institute of Labor Studies (ILS) running from August 1989 to November 1990. Based on the ILO Action Manual and Trainers' Manual on Higher Productivity and a Better Place to Work, published in 1988, ILS developed a training course for trainers, conducted trainers' training and entrepreneurs' courses in Regions 4 and 7, and produced a video. USAID provided funds while ILO gave technical support.
Government recognizes the important role of small and medium enterprises
in generating employment and in producing commodities for local consumption
and for export. Recent policies aim to rationalize government assistance
and services to entrepreneurs. The Small and Medium Enterprise Development
Council (SMED) was set up with the involvement of both public and private
organizations. DOLE is responsible for ensuring safe working conditions
and promoting worker protection and welfare. Since 1976, DOLE has adopted
a more developmental approach to ensuring occupational health and safety
of workers in small and medium enterprises. DOLE recognizes that the regulatory
approach involving the labor inspectorate is, at best, inadequate amid
the large number of enterprises and their wide geographical dispersion.
Both workers and entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises rank occupational
health and safely last among their priorities. Workers' primary concern
is wages, while entrepreneurs are occupied with running the business, including
coping with minimum wage requirements.
The development objective of the WISE project is to raise the productivity and efficiency of small and medium-sized enterprises through improvements in working conditions. The project involves the dissemination of low-cost and practical ways to improve production operations and working conditions, particularly in small enterprises, where capitalization is low and skills limited. WISE covers eight technical areas:
The project's main strategy is practical, action-oriented training for owners and managers of small enterprises. Key principles of training are to:
The project will produce industry-specific action manuals for owners
and managers on the theme "higher productivity and a better place to work."
The manuals cover industries selected under the project: metalworking,
wood processing, garments manufacturing and food processing. These industries
have the highest incidence of occupational hazards and poor working conditions.
Many factors led to a fairly significant level of benefits received by women entrepreneurs and workers from Project WISE. Women were also well represented in the project staff and trainers' pool, and were themselves benefitted through enhanced skills in WISE and in training. The presence of these factors, however, appears more incidental than intentional. More systematic gender analysis and planning can enhance the impact of the project.
Key findings of the gender impact follow.
1.2 Despite lack of systematic gender analysis, the project design appeared to be correct in its assumption about the sex-composition of entrepreneurs and workers in the priority industries. A monitoring survey conducted by BWC in October 1997, albeit involving a small sample of 16 enterprises from the four participating regions, show that two of the chosen priority industries (garments and food) have more women owners/managers and workers. Metal, on the other hand, has only men as owners/managers, and men workers constituted 93% of total. (No enterprise in wood processing was included.) The familiarity of the executing agency, DOLE, with its constituency allowed it to arrive at this near accurate estimate. Labor inspectors come face-to-face with entrepreneurs and workers in their daily work.
1.3 Sex-disaggregation of the data from this small survey present information that may be further explored. Three industries closely associated with women, namely food, garments, and gifts, toys and housewares have almost as many men owners/managers as women, with ratio at five men to seven women. There was also a significant proportion of male workers in food, where men accounted for 39% of workers. One enterprise, J.P. Noodles in Region VII, has equal number of male and female workers (15:16), with the women concentrated in only two stages: (1) washing newly cooked noodles and laying them out as patties on trays for dying; and (2) packing of finished products. The core production processes-which involve heavy work, including exposure to extreme heat of the ovens and dryers-were done by men. Most of the women workers were paid on piece rate, while most men were on daily wage basis.
1.4 While the project design document recognized other needs of entrepreneurs, for credit, market and technology, the project is decidedly focused on improving working conditions. The executing agency, DOLE, is responsible for ensuring compliance to standards in health and occupational safety. It noted that there are other agencies addressing entrepreneurs's other needs. Involving other agencies as cooperators and members f the National Advosory Committee was intended, among others, to effect complementation of services to entrepreneurs. It was also for building capability of partners in the WISE approach.
2. Project Implementation
2.2 There was almost equal number of women and men workers and entrepreneurs who participated in WISE training activities. To the implementers, there appeared no particular constraint to women's attendance to the training activities and to their active participation.
|Name of Course||No. of courses||Participants||Male||Female|
|Comprehensive Entrepreneurs' Workshop||
|Awareness Course for Entrepreneurs||
|Awareness Course for Workers||
The data conflict with the claims of some members of the project teams that many husbands delegate to their wives the attendance to WISE courses, explaining that their wives take care of such issues involving workers. The tasks of women owners/managers both at the enterprise and with the family-supervising workers and overseeing production, and attending to the children and managing the home - may have constrained them from attending, in particular, the two-week comprehensive entrepreneurs' workshops.
2.3 Both men and women entrepreneurs who attended the workshops found WISE very helpful in expanding their awareness of the importance of good working conditions, particularly in improving productivity and workers' efficiency. The list of WISE measures installed in the 16 enterprises that participated in the monitoring show a wide range of "simple, inexpensive and clever" measures installed. A selection of improvements and their benefits as expressed by the owner/manager are below.
|Put up windows||Improved productivity due to better lighting and ventilation|
|Clean work area, organize materials and put up racks||Ease in movement|
|Goggles and masks during painting and polishing||Protection of workers; safeguard from accidents|
|Stools for bakers||Improve body posture|
|Move workers to ground floor where there is more open space||More efficient and happier workers|
|Individual switches for lights||Save energy (lower cost of electricity)|
|Mobile rack for transporting finished goods||(no answer)|
|Work bench for cutting capiz||100% increase in output|
|Metal funnel for measuring and packing the noodles||Increase output three times|
|Vertical pulley||Protect products from damages; reduce stress on workers and time spent on task|
|Mini-pack plastic scaler||40-50% increase in productivity and reduce damage of product|
|Electric slicer and rolling machine||More even slices; reduce wastage; 40-60% increase in productivity|
|Study of different production processes and use of new approach to work||Timely intervention resulting in less wastage of materials and labor, and smoother production flow|
|Use of splitting machine and cutter||Increase in output|
|Materials storage and handling||
|Control of hazardous substances||
|Productive machine safety||
2.5 Some women entrepreneurs expressed their need for other services, like a soft loan to buy a buttonholing machine in order to increase production, or technology to shorten the drying time of noodles. Others, who had been served by government and privately sponsored programs, were satisfied with the scale of their operations and saw no need for additional credit. Still others had their own sources of support. Some subcontractors have their principals providing them the training and technology. Others received assistance from either their customers or their suppliers.
2.6 Women workers were benefitted in so far as they enjoy, together with their male co-workers, the improvements in the overall working conditions. Improved lighting and painting of walls white have lessened eyestrain and reduced hazards. Installing windows and exhaust fans have reduced room temperature and indoor pollution. Improved workstation designs lessened complaints of back pains; foot rests reduced fatigue levels. More efficient packing methods increased the output of women workers who were paid on piece rate basis.
2.7 The Project Manager and the ILO Specialist on Working Conditions both noted that the earlier published brochures and other promotional materials could have been developed with more attention to the visuals and language used. A review of the draft of the action manuals produced over the second half of the project show that gender neutral or sensitive language is already being used, and illustrations present women and men in activities not traditionally associated with their genders. Notably, women-specific measures are covered, particularly in the section on welfare facilities.
2.8 The increased awareness by project implementers to gender issues resulted from the gender training activities that were carried out by DOLE's focal point on Gender and Development, beginning in 1995. The Project Manager and the Regional Coordinators have all attended at least one gender sensitivity training, and conducted echo session to their staff. It was reported that a session on gender sensitivity was integrated in at least one entrepreneurs' course. Project WISE has also been committed by BWC to top management for gender mainstreaming. Among the measures to be instituted is sex-disaggregation of data, which will require the revision of the computerized data management system, and installing gender-based indicators in the Productivity Performance Assessment System of participating enterprises.
2.9 The cooperating agencies, like the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (BSMBD) of DTI, PCCI, ECOP, TUCP and the Alliance of Free Workers, conceded that they were benefitted by Project WISE. They were allotted slots in the fellowship to Australia and in the trainers' training courses. TUCP's Project POSITIVE (Participation Oriented Safety Improvement by Trade Union Initiative Program) tapped WISE trained trainers. Some of those trained in these organizations, however, have left or have been transferred to other programs.
2.10 These same organizations reported that their role in the project was limited mainly to referring participants to the training activities. When little lead time is given for coordination, particularly with their respective regional offices or local partners, they are unable to even help in this regard. DOLE also reported difficulties in maintaining the inter-agency training teams, so that it depended mainly on DOLE trainers. The partners recalled that project schedule, usually set unilaterally by DOLE, often conflict with their own scheduled activities. The National Advisory Committee has not been able to serve as a coordinating mechanism, also because there were few meetings held.
2.11 ECOP and BSMBD are convinced that the WISE approach must be integrated in the range of services that they provide their clientele. They felt, however, that Project WISE was too centralized in DOLE leaving them little opportunity to build their own capability. They recommended that resources be also allotted for their organizations so that they can define their own target and strategy for capability building.
2.12 DOLE trainers and labor inspectors, particularly the members of the project teams at the national and regional levels, are now highly skilled in WISE, and in training, particularly the participatory approach. There are more women than men among the core trainers (9 females to 5 males), and slightly more men than women in the regional project teams (10 men to 7 women). Women trainers from BWC expressed how their participation in WISE taught them new skills like public speaking and participatory approach to training. It increased their knowledge of the different industries, in addition to engaging them to a variety of activities, a break from the monotony of their usual research work. In addition, their interaction with entrepreneurs and workers in their capacities as WISE trainers and advisers boosted their self-confidence. In terms of career advancement, one trainer was sent to Japan to train in "Occupational Health and Ergonomics". She also gave talks on the "Role of WISE Trainers in Participatory Work Improvements in Small Enterprises" in the 11th ISL (Institute of Science of Labour) International Symposium on Occupational Health and 15th Asian Conference on Occupational Health which were both held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in September 1997.
2.13 There is top management commitment to institutionalize the WISE approach in DOLE, and to extend it to the informal sector. WISE has been integrated in the DOLE action plan on livelihood under the Social Reform Agenda, and further WISE trainings were funded from SRA and GATT budgets. At the regional levels however, few such activities were reported. Originally planning to use DOLE's regular budget to run more WISE trainings in 1997, the Project Coordinator of Region VII reported that he cancelled the plan upon knowing that other regions did not intend to do the same. The Regional Director maintained that his office will continue to run WISE trainings.
2.14 In all regions, labor inspectors not directly involved in the project have not yet integrated WISE advisory assistance to their regular activities. Their quota for labor inspection, ranging from two firms a day in Region VII to four firms in NCR, leave them no time to do this. In Region VII however, the Division Chief for Labor Standards Enforcement Division, a female, continued to provide advisory services to entrepreneurs, particularly female entrepreneurs whose enterprises were sites for workers' awareness course. As Division Chief, she is not involved in actual labor inspection.
2.15 Terms of reference of consultants, whether international or national, did not include any provision on gender. National consultants who prepared the industry-specific action manuals were however asked to avoid sexism in the language, and to use female characters in some of the illustrations. This happened soon after the staff's participation in gender sensitivity training.
3. Project Monitoring
3.2 The UNDP prescribed reporting form includes gender/sex variables, but in a very limited way. The form requires only information on the sex of fellows/participants to training activities, and the sex of project management and staff. No other information is sought. For instance, the reporting form does not ask about how gender considerations, stated in the project design document, were adhered to. Such questions could have reminded the project staff of the project's commitment to addressing gender issues.
3.3 This study, since it focused on the gender impact of Project WISE, became a catalyst for making the implementers think of gender. For instance, the Monitoring Survey forms were revised at the last minute, to include information as to number of female workers in the enterprise and the number of females benefitted (which were added by hand). Integration of the sex/gender variable in the data base and productivity performance assessment system was also thought about only during the conduct of this study. The study by a Japanese consultant on ergonomics, which was being carried out simultaneously with this study, also included female workers. This study was to measure changes in physical exertion and muscle use due to work improvements. After this consultant pointed out the strenuous and repetitive activity of the female workers washing noodles, the Project Manager decided to include one of these workers in the study. He also dialogued with the owner on how to improve the work process to reduce the physical strain on the workers.
4. Project Evaluation
4.2 The report cited the following as continuing concerns:
b) Role of partners: improving coordination and cooperation between DOLE and its partners, cost sharing, and enhancing the capability of partners to deliver WISE services to their own constituency.