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Women, Development and Empowerment: A Pacific Feminist Perspective

Women and Development Planning

Women and Development Planning

One of the regional projects coordinated by the Pacific Women's Resource Bureau of the South Pacific Commission, was to examine the development planning process which takes place in the Pacific. We wanted to find out why women were not involved in the planning process. Generally we found that most countries had very small units of national planning offices which were mostly staffed by expatriates even though they often were headed by a local. When it came to drawing up a development plan, this was done by the expatriate staff supposedly with directives from the local staff. Often these plans were based on development plans devised elsewhere; also many expatriate staff would not understand the cultural background and community issues of the countries involved.

Planning also takes place in a vacuum away from the people. Planners sit in a planning office and do the planning - they do not consult the people who may be able to make valuable contributions to development strategies.

When people do not participate in the planning process, they are unable to interpret the concepts used by the planners when they attempt to implement sections of the plan. People's exclusion from the planning process also results in their immediate and basic needs not being included in development plans, and/or receiving no budget allocation for services people would find helpful.

For countries to develop in a positive way, we need to adopt a strategy whereby people participate in the planning process of the community and of the nation. Governments have to involve people in identifying development projects, participating in formulating development plans and in monitoring the implementation of these page 71 plans. They also should be involved in the evaluation of positive and negative impacts of development plans. Only they can we hope for positive development in our countries.