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Discuss about the Microcredit Empowerment For Agricultural Development.

Gender, Agriculture and the Environment

To enhance the development of all individuals are expected to participate irrespective of the gender. This brings a scenario where everybody is executing their duties respectively towards achieving a common goal. Globally, gender equality is recognized to be crucial towards achieving sustainable development. Gender equality ensures that no party is being discriminated and all are accorded equal opportunities of participating in matters concerning national development.  Initially, various societies from all corners of the world especially the third world countries have been discriminating women. This is because women were considered to be inferior and were not supposed to participate in activities about national growth. However, currently, the stereotypes have been disregarded in various communities. It was achieved through the continuous rise of racism which was urgently demanding for the changes. Countries are currently launching diverse empowerment programs to promote development. Such programs have been majorly adopted in the third world countries in the process of starting development projects to match the developed countries such as America.  Presently, all genders are being motivated equally in the method of enhancing national growth. This paper, therefore, introduces the issue of gender and development and illustrates the imperative of intersectionality to gender empowerment programs. The paper employs an Eritrean case which involved gender empowerment microcredit program. The article will focus on the importance of incorporating an intersectional lens to gender intersectional lens. Gender intersectional lens pertains investigation on the roles played by respective gender towards achieving national growth and development.

With much-growing literature on gender and development, a lot of emphases have been focused on both agriculture and environment as they are essential in humans' life. The process of agricultural procedures involves interaction with nature and other people in the society. It has also confirmed that women are the first producers in most productive economies. However, when it comes to agricultural activities in Eritrea and other many places, women are seen as insignificant workers. Despite being unrecognized and unpaid, women provide primary care in the society. They are categorized as mothers and wives but not as farmers. Past existent data did not measure the efforts of women or measure their efforts in agricultural activities (Bastia, 2014). This shows the extent to which lack of gender intersectionality in our societies. With the numerous campaigns for ensuring equity across all sectors of the economy, women have been empowered to through different programs to claim equal treatment and recognition from their counterparts in the society (Whittaker, 2014). Applying an intersectional lens in gender empowerment programs brings a sense of belonging and value across all people undertaking a given program thus issues concerning gender inequalities will not be existent (Rodriguez et al., 2016). Also, when people are sensitized about the importance of incorporating an intersectional lens to gender, they will join their efforts in one union and thus carry out their activities in unison. The microcredit program in Eritrea aimed at sensitizing people on the importance of intersectional of gender in agricultural activities by incorporating both genders in their funding activities (Beneria, Berik & Floro, 2015). Through this funding programs, it was a must for women to partake in the countries agricultural processes. This provided them with an opportunity to prove to men that they were equally better and could even surpass them in doing agricultural tasks.

Gender and Empowerment Concept

When conflicts occur in the society, women and girls are the most affected group. They are in danger of losing their lives but most probably their husbands and relatives. They are raped in the conflicting environment by the rebels who cause the uproar. They end up being refugees to neighboring countries or in new places where they are unknown (Mason, 2018). Most of these conflicts result from agricultural activities that involve more than one communities who have diverse traditions. Women find themselves at the center of a fix when one group in the society begins fights with the other in the name of grabbed farming land or livestock (Beneria et al., 2015). Most political leaders try to improve the lives of women by empowering them to indulge themselves in activities similar to those of men to learn how to provide for themselves and not rely on others. Women have limited access to resources and incomes in Eritrea as well as other places in the world. It is also difficult to talk about women's agencies that fight against inequalities in the society because patriarchal cultural structures have taken deep roots in the community (Harcourt, 2016). By realizing the energy and capabilities in them, women and other organizations have initiated programs that will help them prove themselves as equal to men.

Definitions on empowerment are central to access to power and control over resources. Others focus on the existent inequality between men and women that put men in a high category than women giving them most opportunities. Other authors agree that the concept of empowerment is not well defined because it may take different definitions according to the scenario. The strategy of empowerment is to create a notion of process in the theory of development (Waitoller & Artiles, 2013). In this context, the microfinance creditor in Eritrea epitomized the manner in which women had shown their agricultural ability but disregarded in the society. Empowerment brings a change and gives people a choice to make and power. According to Vandergeest, Tran & Marschke (2017), the process is encompassed by a group or people with little or no power to gain the control and ability to make their own choices. The importance of gender empowerment in development is that it makes it possible for both males and females to have the ability to access material, social and human resources necessary for making strategic choices in their life (Hopkins, 2017). In an empowerment conference in Beijing, it was stated that empowerment is essential for creating a better world for women. This was reached after a general conclusion that women were the most marginalized, vulnerable to threats in the society and poorest globally.

Microcredit and Gender in Eritrea

Microcredits are recognized globally for providing help to marginalized populations to reduce poverty. In Eritrea, they aimed to empower women whose position in the communities' agricultural activities. Women had been highly discriminated in the partaking in the farming activities of the society because they were termed insignificant and lacking the ability to propagate such events in the Eritrean community. The microfinance stepped in to empower them to change the manner in which their male counterparts viewed them (Greenshaw. 2005). Through the credit, women showed a lot of potentials that could be relied on by other people in the society that was encompassed by a patriarchal system that hindered women from involving themselves in agricultural activities. The microcredit knew that there was a lot of potential in women in this society and the only way to expose this was to make them of the funding programs to undertake agricultural practices (Bastia, 2014). By bringing men to work with women in Eritrea, it created a sense of equality as women carried out the farming activities in the same capacity as men did. From this instance, women in the society became empowered to see themselves as equal to men and indulge themselves in activities that they had been forbidden to in the past. Through the microcredit, women began taking part in the agricultural activities of the society thus increasing food production (Carter, Dietrich & Minor, 2017). This earned them respect and challenged men to cease from practicing vices that are one-sided. The empowerment increased food supply across Eritrea alleviating the hunger and poverty that had been experienced in the nation for an extended period (Bahta, Strydom & Donkor, 2017). Since then, women have been seen as a tool for improvement as they have contributed significantly to the agricultural activities of the country. The microcredit has challenged other governments and NGOs to initiate empowerment programs insisting on equality across both genders. Similarly, microfinance has been listed as one of the empowerment components that play a vital role in bringing gender equality in all areas of the society.

Intersectionality is a useful analysis instrument in the process of program formulation, policy development, and advocacy (Gottschang, 2017). It helps in the process of addressing various discriminations and helps in understanding how sets of identities affect the access to rights and opportunities which are naturally provided. For the Eritrean case study, it is composed of two games namely male and female as well as their role towards enhancing national development through the establishment of microcredit program. The Eritrean microcredit program is described by continuous savings whereby the members benefit after a specified period. It is in the form of loans since the beneficiaries participate in agriculture and small trade activities primarily in the remote part of the sub-zone (Stoian et al, 2018). The program is not discriminative as both male and female are free to join since its primary objective is to enhance their lives. However, the founder of the program mostly targeted women as they have continuously been exposed to various forms and sufferings in Africa. This is because most of the African communities do not appreciate women as they equal therefore exposing them to intimidation. Intersectionality is an efficient tool for enhancing national development explaining why it is preferred in the process of advocating for gender equality (Hayhurst, Giles & Radforth, 2015).

The primary objective of establishing the Microcredit programs in Eritrea was to enhance economic growth which is directly related to improving standards of living. The Eritrean government wanted to create a platform which will help the government offer social amenities to the citizens such as education and health (Storeng & Behague, 2014). The project was also obliged to narrowing the Eritrean gap between the rich and poor as well as gender differences. Based on past issues, cases of gender discrimination had been reported whereby women were significant victims indicating that there was an urgent need to address the problem (Balasubramanian, 2018). The application of intersectional lens seems to have worked effectively in the implementation of the Eritrean microcredit programs. This is because the country has been in a position of curbing gender inequality as well as enhancing the lives of many people. Many Eritreans are currently living good lives courtesy of the programs. Apart from enhancing people’s lives, the programs have helped the government in improving the economic growth. This is because the majority of the citizens are involved in income generating activities and are entitled to pay tax. In return, the government has been using the revenue to start and finalize the development projects aiming to improve the well-being of the residents (Naved et al., 2018). The country is currently registering positive performance due to the success of the programs through the incorporation of the intersectionality lens. Socially, the intersectionality lens in the microcredit program has effectively facilitated the interaction of the Eritreans as well as promoting peaceful co-existence. This has assured people safety upon migrating from one place and settling in another (Carter, Dietrich & Minor, 2017). Generally, it is evident that Eritrean is currently registering positive progress in various issues due to the incorporation of intersectionality lens in implementing microcredit programs. A significant milestone has been reached in the enhancement of citizen lives and bridging the already existing gender gap. This has helped in the creation of a reliable platform for establishing and initiating development projects. The government is currently on the verge of achieving both Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Gentile, Kinsman & Rankin, 2017). This is a significant milestone in enhancing Eritrean economic growth.


Eradication of poverty as well as ending human rights violations and achieving sustainable development requires both ideological and cultural shifts (Powell, 2017). In this scenario, the government is expected to come up with a useful program which is well programmed and a stable source of finance. There are various complexities which are associated to trade liberalizations, deregulation, privatization as well as intensified imperialism. The microcredit program established in Eritrea would have been a total mess if it was not implemented using a useful tool. Demand analysis is also mandatory which aims at providing detailed, nuanced data and inspiring activism as well as advocacy towards enhancing equality and justice. Intersectionality tool has proved tool in the process as it has helped Eritrea achieve improved standards of living as well as registering a growing economy (Dhamoon, 2015). Although the effectiveness of intersection lens depends on its application, in this case, it seems to have been efficient in the process of enhancing livelihood through linking the existing Eritrean gender gap. The Eritrean microcredit program applied the strategy in institutionalized, and a simplified manner, therefore, facilitating the achievement of the objectives. The Microcredit program in Eritrea is keen to allocate resources to the marginalized groups such as women as it was revealed through analyzing intersecting discriminations. Women were also targeted in the empowering process as they have the least access to rights and the resources as the program focused on excluding poverty and enhancing the lives. Some of the most targeted areas include the provision of necessary medical services, offering educational opportunities, protecting livelihood security and supplying the efficient agricultural technologies and inputs (Hoad, 2018). The areas significantly affected the real regions regarding promoting women rights and gender equality. By involving the female gender which has continuously been exposed to significant discrimination implied enhancing their lives. It is therefore evident that the intersectionality lens worked effectively in implementing gender empowerment programs. The existing gender gap has been bridged therefore improving the lives of the marginalized communities (Grey & Patel, 2015). This has brought equity in the gender roles towards enhancing national growth. Eritrea will continue to register growing economic growth due to eliminating gender differences and enhancement of individual lives a well as a stable platform in the process of achieving both MDGs and SDGs.  

Conclusion

There has been numerous case of people who are mistreated because they are of a specific gender. The inequality results in people lacking the chance to access human resources and others because they are of a particular gender that is despised in the society. This vice limits people from exercising their rights and showing their capabilities that may of be of great importance to the entire society. Different programs have been adopted to fight against gender inequality where most communities are patriarchal leaving little or no chances for women to partake in some activities. The microcredit program in Eritrea targeted to empower women by funding them to engage in agricultural activities. Through this program, women undertook projects that made them be realized as equal to men as they were able to do the activities that men used to do in a better manner thus boosting the agricultural sector of the country. The program gave women courage and also help ease the poverty by ensuring food security across the nation. People should be given equal opportunities in the communities regardless of their gender.

References

Bahta, Y. T., Strydom, D. B., & Donkor, E. (2017). Microcredit and gender empowerment: policy implications for sustainable agricultural development in Eritrea. Development in Practice, 27(1), 90-102.

Balasubramanian, S. (2018). Motivating Men: Social Science and the Regulation of Men’s Reproduction in Postwar India. Gender & Society, 32(1), 34-58.

Bastia, T. (2014). Intersectionality, migration, and development. Progress in Development Studies, 14(3), 237-248.

Benería, L., Berik, G., & Floro, M. (2015). Gender, development and globalization: economics as if all people mattered. Routledge.

Carter, S. E., Dietrich, L. M., & Minor, O. M. (2017). Mainstreaming gender in WASH: lessons learned from Oxfam’s experience of Ebola. Gender & Development, 25(2), 205-220.

Crenshaw, K. (2005). Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color (1994).

Dhamoon, R. (2015). A feminist approach to decolonizing anti-racism: Rethinking transnationalism, intersectionality, and settler colonialism. Feral Feminisms, 4, 20-37.

Gentile, P., Kinsman, G., & Rankin, L. P. (Eds.). (2017). We Still Demand!: Redefining Resistance in Sex and Gender Struggles. UBC Press.

Gottschang, S. Z. (2007). Maternal Bodies, Breast?Feeding, and Consumer Desire in Urban China. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 21(1), 64-80.

Grey, S., & Patel, R. (2015). Food sovereignty as decolonization: Some contributions from Indigenous movements to food system and development politics. Agriculture and Human Values, 32(3), 431-444.

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Hayhurst, L. M., Giles, A. R., & Radforth, W. M. (2015). ‘I want to come here to prove them wrong’: using a post-colonial feminist participatory action research (PFPAR) approach to studying sport, gender and development programmes for urban Indigenous young women. Sport in society, 18(8), 952-967.

Hoad, N. (2018). Arrested development or the queerness of savages: resisting evolutionary narratives of difference. In Routledge Handbook of Queer Development Studies (pp. 89-117). Routledge.

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Mason, C. L. (2018). Introduction to Routledge Handbook of Queer Development Studies. In Routledge Handbook of Queer Development Studies (pp. 17-32). Routledge.

Naved, R., Rahman, T., Willan, S., Jewkes, R., & Gibbs, A. (2018). Female garment workers’ experiences of violence in their homes and workplaces in Bangladesh: a qualitative study. Social Science & Medicine, 196, 150-157.

Pearse, R., & Connell, R. (2016). Gender norms and the economy: Insights from social research. Feminist Economics, 22(1), 30-53.

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Stoian, D., Donovan, J., Elias, M., & Blare, T. (2018). Fit for purpose? A review of guides for gender-equitable value chain development. Development in Practice, 28(4), 494-509.

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Vandergeest, P., Tran, O., & Marschke, M. (2017). Modern day slavery in Thai fisheries: academic critique, practical action. Critical Asian Studies, 49(3), 461-464.

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