Seeing Is Believing?

by Helen Hambly, Capacity Development and Extension, University of Guelph

  • Project: Gender dynamics of rural women’s groups
  • Location: Kenya
  • Sector: Gender
  • Professional Designation: Academia


Okay – I’m willing to put something out here because this is an interesting blog. I believe in learning from mistakes but I’d also warn that not everyone can disclose the mistakes they’ve made!

In the mid-1990s I studied the gender dynamics of rural women’s groups in western Kenya. NGOs, donors and generally outsiders were certainly preoccupied with women’s groups.


I found that careful understanding of the role of men in women’s groups was warranted. Just as development made women invisible, it also erased men even when they were active in so-called “women’s groups”. See the story in Francis Cleaver (2000) Masculinity Matters. Zed Books. Or contact me for a copy.


Select three phrases that describe this failure.

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Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment

  1. kevin says:


    I am from kenya,specifically Wersern part. I live in London now.last year I completed Masters i International development and my thesis was role of Wife inheritance in spread of HIV in western part of kenya. I worked mostly with women groups and I coud not avoid noticing the role of men in these groups.
    I am very interested with the book that you have mentioned above.

  2. Edna Obinyan says:

    Hi, I am a student of University of East Anglia, UK and currently studying MA International Development

    Thanks for being honest about your discovery, it tells us up coming development professionals to be more critical and careful. I am taking some gender courses and am interested in the book.

  3. Tia says:

    Hi, I am a student at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science in the Netherlands and studying Rural Development and Communication. I am very interested to read the book you mentioned.

  4. Sharen Gutierrez says:

    Certainly added a facet I had not considered. Helps me look at things from the perspective on the unseen threads that form the tapestry.

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