Rural development is about more than agriculture and agriculture is about more than food production. In modern economies, only a small minority of workers is employed in food production, and these are the lowest paid workers in the economy. A larger portion of workers is typically employed in agri-business, but wages are still higher in other sectors.
Taking a gender perspective is even more important in rural areas, where traditional cultures can be more deeply embedded and, therefore, gender roles more fixed and limiting. A gender perspective is important for programs specifically targeting girls and/or women, and for mainstream programs. In both cases, a gender perspective helps enhance overall program effectiveness, and improves outcomes for girls and women.
Opportunities generated in rural areas need to be high-impact or transformative if they are to counteract the “pull” of urbanization, for young people who have that option. Small-scale farming and rural, informal employment represent the lowest paid, least secure occupations in most countries.
Rural young people often face multiple barriers to employment, including low skill levels and self-confidence, weak social networks and discrimination, little access to capital, physical isolation and low mobility, weak economic opportunities, etc. One solution is rarely sufficient to address multiple needs. Particularly for disadvantaged or extremely poor populations, access to multiple services makes opportunities more accessible and transformation more likely.
A key question facing rural YEO practitioners now is what kids of strategies work for what kinds of young people in what kinds of rural areas? The examples presented in this section on principles and practices illustrate a wide range of strategies, target groups and rural situations. For example:
YEO programs should consider whether their initiative has an urban bias, and how the initiative might be adapted to serve young people in or coming from diverse rural settings. Rural development programs should ensure that programs are not harming young men and women; they should adapt programs to include youth, and identify ways that youth engagement can enhance program outcomes. To do this, each group should shorten their learning curve by accessing lessons and employing strategies developed by the other professional group.
This chapter presents understandings emerging from practice and the futuristic thinking of experts working in rural and youth development fields. These understandings, which are forming the basis of recognized principles, show both common factors and the diversity of the young people who are launching their productive lives in rural areas. As a coherent set of understandings, they have yet to be vetted by a representative group, so they do not represent “industry policy” or agreed upon “principles” at this stage.
mEducation Alliance, USAID, Mastercard Foundation
Ashoka and MasterCard Foundation
Something extraordinary is happening in Africa - a spirit of entrepreneurship is emerging. Africa’s economy is growing at a rapid pace, and its young population will require a new set of skills to take full advantage of the continent’s potential. However, young entrepreneurs face many challenges, including limited access to finance and business support services, unreliable technology, and a host of bureaucratic obstacles.
Making Cents International
Hathay Bunano (‘hand-made’ in Bangla) produces hand-knitted children’s toys under our own brand, Pebble, and for international private-label clients around the world. Using an innovative and much-needed model of rural production, we have taken the less skilled and time-consuming production tasks to the villages, creating jobs for thousands of young women whose economic opportunities are quite limited.