In all MRHP projects, the involvement of women is especially encouraged and a great many of the animators andcommunity representatives are female. However, women, while taking on a major part of the responsibilities for families and income generation, do not always have a major say in decision making activities, so ensuring equal rights for men and women in housing matters, such as housing ownership, is a priority.
Although none of the projects are aimed exclusively at women, many have potentially major impacts on their lives. The use of an energy efficient stove, for instance, not only brings health benefits to the women who do the vast majority of the cooking, but it also saves them time as they have to collect less fire wood, freeing them up for potentially income generating projects. Farming is shared between men and women, but the growing of grain crops tends to be a female role, so encouraging the planting of grain legumes has benefit not only for the nutrition of the family, but also as an income generating activity for women.
Farmers organised in groups are learning about and enjoying the availability of a variety of farming implements, ranging from ox ploughs and weeders to hand hoes and improved seeds. Female-headed households in particular are strongly encouraged to work in groups to ensure they gain access to the skills and training available.
One area in which women do not fully participate is house planning and building. MRHP is encouraging them to become more involved in this aspect of improved housing and living conditions, through training more women as animators in these fields, thereby reducing long held prejudices about womens’ roles in house construction.
Every year MRHP holds a Show Day for women, where they can display their innovations in areas like stove making and the construction of clay water storage jars, and where they get the chance to demonstrate new developments and ideas to each other.