Integrating and valuing rural womanhood in community development projects: Case study lessons from Nepal

Cory G Collins

Abstract


Rural women and women in remote locations are a critical but overlooked resource in community development projects. Nepalese women have made particularly significant contributions in their own environments, with their local knowledge standing out as an especially decisive intervening variable in the success of project outcomes. Existing descriptions of the dynamics and delivery of Nepal's School and Community Health Project (SCHP) are examined for the project's skillful incorporation of and attention to gender sensitivity in service delivery. Theoretical perspectives in social work, a foundational discipline of community development practice, is used to contextualize and reflect on the effectiveness of SCHP and related projects, while systems theory and chaos theory in particular are useful metaphors to understand projects' causality and organization. A reflection on relevant integration of social work knowledge is also provided.

Rural women are engaged as clients in a range of international community development projects. In Nepal, rural women have participated in many community development projects and community organizing initiatives to improve local conditions. In collaboration with social workers, marked improvements in quality of life have been achieved for many populations of rural women, despite significant historical and ongoing barriers. Following an overview of some experiences of rural womanhood in Nepal, I provide information on rural women's participation and connect relevant social work-inclusive projects to related theoretical concerns. As well, I describe and analyze the skills, knowledge, and ethics used by workers in the concerned development projects, with a particular focus on Nepal's School and Community Health Project (SCHP), a community development project that improved literacy rates and economic outcomes for women in many regions of Nepal. I rely strongly on descriptions of SCHP in the existing literature, such as those from Jimba, Poudel-Tandukar and Poudel (2008), who make a strong case for the decisive role of community health development in rural contexts.

Keywords: women, Nepal, community development, rural, gender

Résumé
Les femmes des zones rurales et les femmes des régions éloignées sont une ressource vitale mais négligée dans les projets de développements communautaires. Les femmes népalaises ont apporté des contributions très significatives à leurs environnements, avec leur savoir local s'imposant comme une variable particulièrement significative dans le succès des résultats de projets. Les descriptions existantes des dynamiques et prestations de la School and Community Health Project (SCHP) du Népal sont examinées pour incorporer au projet les habiletés et la sensibilité au genre lors de la prestation des services. Les perspectives théoriques dans le service social, une discipline fondamentale de la pratique du développement communautaire, est utilisée pour mettre en contexte et examiner l'efficacité de la SCHP et des projets connexes, tandis que la théorie du système et la théorie du chaos en particulier sont des métaphores utiles pour comprendre la causalité et l'organisation de projets. Au Népal, les femmes des zones rurales ont participé à beaucoup de projets communautaires et d'initiatives organisationnelles communautaires afin d'améliorer les conditions locales. En collaboration avec les travailleurs sociaux, une nette amélioration a été atteinte pour beaucoup de populations de femmes rurales, malgré un historique significatif d'obstacles importants. Après un aperçu de quelques expériences de la féminité d'une femme rurale au Népal, je fournis des informations sur la participation des femmes des zones rurales et je lie les projets sociaux pertinents relatifs à des travaux inclusifs aux préoccupations.

Full Text:

PDF


The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.

SSHRC Logo