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Project Brief

South Asian economies face many challenges. Amongst these, equity in distribution of development specifically gender and rural-urban inequities, creation of employment opportunities, inadequate basic education and technical capabilities to raise farm and non-farm productivity figure high. Within India, the largest of the South Asian Nations, with a rapidly transforming rural population of more than 700 million , development of adequate affordable and reliable infrastructure and services has emerged as a priority strategy for rural development and poverty alleviation. Infrastructure development encompasses the habitat sector which includes housing, sanitation water services, roads, energy services and other social facilities. These are being given impetus through many development programs led by the government, pointing to a tremendous potential in the area of technology development and application in the habitat sector.

The International Development Research Centre, Canada (IDRC-CRDI) supported this research under its Gender and Innovation program towards understanding the impediments to innovation processes that prevent women’s work from being visible.

Through this research DA has aimed to highlight the innovation and contribution of Women to Habitat services and seek to identify specific niche areas where women workers can find their position and respectability and the support structures and mechanisms that need to be in place to enable them to perform to the best of their ability.

Research Problem

The problems with regard to women employment opportunities in the habitat/ construction sector in India remain the same. The only aspect that has changed is the manner in which they have been described. A larger emphasis has been laid on the existing cases and examples where women have been allowed to harness their natural abilities to contribute not just to construction stages, but to the design and application stages as well. The emphasis on this aspect is owing to the manner in which institutions have been able to empower women, and why such initiatives have been unable to generate wider implications.


The objectives of the research are:

1. To explore the existing situation of women and to seek out the areas where the gender specific dimensions provide an advantage and therefore avenues to improve socio- economic conditions and the ability to contribute outside the realm of the family.

2. To explore the evidence of /or potential contribution of women to technical design, technological enterprise design and delivery system design in the identified areas of habitat products and services delivery.

Research Methodology

While conducting the desk research of the government policies and schemes as well as of the case studies, an electronic-search of available documents was completed. For a detailed study of the documents, various publications along with the Development Alternatives library were consulted. The library database search of IDRC provided some relevant data as well. However, a problem was faced in terms of outdated information available in certain cases. To overcome this problem some agencies were contacted by email, to provide current information regarding their work with women in habitat services.

The field study is divided into case studies and survey. As per these two parts, the methods of data collection vary, which are:

1. Case studies

Following methods have been used for data collection:

a. Focus Group discussions with the women workers in Habitat Services

b. Individual Interviews with the women workers, institutional personnel, and immediate supervisors of the women workers

c. Observations through interview recording and photography

2. Survey

Four sets of questionnaires are being formulated, each for:

a. Institutional Personnel

b. Women Workers

c. Family members

d. Consumers of the products made by the women

When conducting the survey, links will be established between the woman interviewed, her family member and the consumer so as to bring out maximum value for analysis of the data the total sample size estimated is to be about 150 for the survey, and the women will be identified through a ‘simple random sampling’ method.

Project Outputs

a. Articles

• Gender Diversity for Innovation (Published in Development Alternatives Newsletter)

• Woman in Habitat services: Cases of Empowerment (Published in Development Alternatives Newsletter)

• Towards the Skillful Involvement of women in habitat services (Published in Development Alternatives Newsletter)

b. Papers

• Building Capacities of Women in Habitat Services: Challenging Tradition, Driving Innovation (To be presented at the Globelics International conference, Kuala Lumpur) c. Five Case Studies Impact

Although at this stage of the research it is difficult to say what has been the impact, yet efforts have been made to incorporate the findings and learning’s form this research into a parallel project of Development alternatives under the ‘Department for Science and Technology’ (DST called the Capacity Building of Women in Habitat based livelihood services’. In this project the women will be trained at three levels in the three states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and at the third level they will have been enabled to set up an enterprise. Aspects of life skills training, and a need based approach in identifying the women have already been utilised in the project. Recommendations

The project team after careful evaluation would like to recommend a few budget changes:

• The present budget does not include any budget for data analysis and training. We would like to change the budget head under consultant for a woman SHG expert for a Data analysis expert and preliminary training of a few team members in SPSS analysis. This is critical as the adequate and correct analysis of the data is essential for the right conclusion to be made

• There is no budget line for capacity building and training. The team would like to build their capacities in terms of communications as well as analysis and would like to use certain funds for research expenses for the same.

• It is estimated that the cost of survey will be higher that was proposed, and thus we would like to utilise some funds under the budget line ‘Documentation of case studies’ for survey and data collection costs.

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