Gender and Governance


Governance challenges constitute a major bottleneck to agricultural and rural development due to their impact on the provision of rural services. Because 70 percent of poor people live in rural areas, efficient extension services are particularly important for pro-poor development. Women, who play an essential role in agricultural production and in the rural non-farm economy, face particular difficulties in gaining access to necessary economic and social services.

The objectives of this Netherlands-funded project (2007–2009) were to improve the governance of service delivery in rural areas by removing development barriers, provide more equitable access to available services—especially for women—and reduce corruption and elite capture in rural service provision. The project aimed to identify, analyze, and promote gender-sensitive governance reform strategies for the provision of economic services, including rural infrastructure; credit and advisory services; social services, such as health, water, sanitation, and education.

The project analyzed the governance reform experience of countries where a range of gender-specific governance reforms have been implemented: India and Sri Lanka in Asia, and Ghana and Ethiopia in Africa. Cross-country and cross-regional comparisons took into account varying levels of agricultural and rural development, the role of women in society, and the general institutional environment. Case studies were conducted in regions of Ghana and Ethiopia as well as in Kerala, India. The project applied existing data from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (collected by IFPRI) and from Sri Lanka (collected by the World Bank).


The resulting report, Gender and Governance in Rural Services: Insights from India, Ghana, and Ethiopia, was a collaborative effort by the World Bank, IFPRI, and these partner institutions: the Institute of Social and Economic Change and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India; the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research of the University of Ghana, Legon; and the Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute.