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Gender Integration in the Extension System

Achieving Gender Integration in the Extension System in the Jammu and Kashmir Region of Pakistan

M. Kalim Qamar, Ph.D.[1]

History of the case

Around 1996, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) project, executed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was started in the Azad Jammu & Kashmir region of Pakistan for strengthening a local institution, Extension Services Management Academy. Among several other activities, a diploma academic program was initiated to train young women to work as extension officers, something never heard of before in this traditional region. Later, around the same time, an International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-financed Neelum & Jhelum Valley Community Development Project started under which rural women groups were organized alongside rural men’s groups for community development purpose. The graduate female extension officers used these women groups as platform for extending extension advice. Eventually, the Department of Agriculture created a permanent women extension cell which continues till this day, and women extension officers work in the field advising both men and especially women on how to enhance their income through various agricultural activities.

My involvement

I was responsible for providing technical backstopping to the extension aspects of both projects throughout their lives of several years. As such, I undertook frequent missions to the region to supervise the projects and held discussions in the field with the female extension officers. In addition, I met dozens of rural women groups and observed their meetings and income generation agricultural activities such as off-season vegetables cultivation in plastic tunnels.

Lessons illustrated

The case is a perfect example of gender integration in extension. Rural development programs have impressive impact when women are integrated in the mainstream extension activities, both as service-providers and services-recipients. Even in male dominated and traditional regions, the very presence of female extension staff is welcomed because they can provide effective extension advice on small-scale farming, home gardening and fruit processing to the women. The use of women groups provides not only personal security to the female extension staff but also avoids being target of cultural taboos against women employment for the field jobs.

Importance to MEAS

MEAS could present this case to the developing countries as a success story for integrating gender in their main extension programs. It is certainly possible to introduce female extension staff who could function without fear while using rural women groups as platform for providing extension advice.

Final date of case study delivery Due to close familiarity with the project, this will be an independent desk study using secondary sources available. A few overseas discussions over the telephone may be involved if a couple of most relevant persons in the project could be found.

[1] Former Senior Officer , Agricultural Extension & Training, FAO/UN Headquarter, Rome; presently Independent consultant based in Maryland, USA; Email:; Home telephone: (301) 926-0334