When we travel to distant rural areas to visit the project sites, it is often striking to see hordes of young men and adolescent boys hanging out in front of shops or on main squares, playing cards or just idly watching the coming and going of traffic and people.
When we look closer and listen to these young men and women, we discover a different reality. The young men sitting in front of the village café could be a 35 year old farmer, who is still a second hand to his father and has nothing to decide about farming and marketing. The young women with the toddler could be a 17 year old mother who did not finish schooling and lives now with her in-laws, with little time and skills.
Rural development programmes that target young people need to take into account the different gender needs. For boys and young men, programmes can get them off the street and help put them to stand on their own feet, by learning new skills or finding employment.
For girls and young women, skills development or income generating activities help them to break up a circle of isolation and chores, gets them out of the house and meet other girls. These programmes help them to socialize, to increase their education and skills, including knowledge about health, nutrition and finance. Expanding girl’s education is the most obvious lever to change the situation of young women. These programmes can also contribute to delay marriages and child birth.
By Maria Hartl