Women's skills, experience and perspectives are highly valuable and can be essential in given situations such as striving towards community sustainability. Yet, in most countries, women have limited access to and control over decision making, income, credit, land, education, training, health care and information. As a consequence, many women lack the opportunity for self-fulfilment, and potential contributions to the community are lost.
In order to assure the active, conscious participation of women (and men, girls and boys) in the process of building local communities, the following questions could be asked: 1) Who is involved in the planning of the programme, project or activity in question ? In what ways ? 2) Who participates on the team (i.e. community council, NGO, church group) ? What is the proportion of women to men ? In what positions are they ? Have there been any changes since the beginning of the programme ? 3) Are both women's and men's needs taken into consideration in both the planning and implementing stages ? In what way ? 4) Do women hold leadership positions in community organizations ? In what kind of organization ? In what positions ? Have there been any recent changes ? 5) Do women, as well as men, have security of tenure and ownership of land/property ? In what proportion ? Has this changed in recent times ? 6) How is local government involved ? How many women and men are involved from local government? What positions do they hold ? What is the relationship with the community ? 7) Has there been any gender-awareness training for the team, the community members ? Where are these people now ? Doing what ? 8) Is there less dependency on external advisors (particular for women in development) than before? How is this shown ? 9) Are there control procedures for ensuring equal participation of women and men ? What are these procedures ?
It is women who organize to make a better life for our families, our communities and themselves. Women put more heart and soul into it.