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More extensive micro-level research should be carried out to bring information now hidden and dispersed to light. Such research will have to initiate and encourage innovative methodologies and instruments of measurement. This study has demonstrated the effectiveness of a multi-technique approach and shown how the complex nature of women's work requires the development of new indicators. It has also highlighted some of the many problems which must be heed when devising a methodology to evaluate the impact of development policy. These problems are exacerbated by the time-lag of various interactions, which in itself makes development interventions irreversible, even if they are found to be detrimental and damaging to the social fabric they aim to strengthen.
Each of the development policies examined here had both beneficial and adverse effects on the people concerned. The impact of each on the different social groups varied according to the group's situation and particular experience. Policy evaluation should therefore begin by taking account of such diversity.
In this study, the change which seemed to enhance the quality of life and social stability most, as well as facilitating sustained development, was the introduction of the new agriculture. The synergistic effect of the changes involved was apparent in the modification of deeply rooted attitudes and ideological concepts. The way in which people in the Irrigated Village transcended their accustomed social behaviour to absorb and cultivate new ideas and practices suggests how such settlements could be managed elsewhere. A demonstrable gain, such as land for the landless and displaced, is seen to have contributed significantly to the positive response to change. However, this acceptance could easily be reversed if there is no land for the next generation or schemes to use existing land without fragmentation, and there is little hope of continuity. A partial solution could lie in agro-industrial ventures which include diversified training programmes and future prospects for young people. The modernity scores revealed a direct correlation between age and education: younger educated women had the highest scores in all locations, with one exception. This was the Irrigated Village, which shared the highest overall modernity score (with an SU-K) that was not confined to any age or educational status. The new agriculture was therefore a catalyst that had an effect on an entire social ethos.
Female investment in education and employment in expectation of a good marriage, and the growing numbers of households supported by co-earners, have important policy implications. The new jobs for less educated females are mainly in arduous low-paid work; West Asian jobs may very well peter out in time. A number of women are already seeking jobs outside the traditionally female areas, showing their potential for earning in new ways of which all are not yet aware. A campaign to publicize new opportunities and schemes could help fill the gap created by shrinking job opportunities in West Asia or the FTZ in the future. There was sometimes a considerable shortfall between the labour demand and supply, a situation often exacerbated as much by prevailing attitudes as by practical considerations. In the urban location, for example, there was a desperate need for income on the one hand and for household help on the other, but neither was met because the poorer women rejected the idea of domestic service. Other means of income generation, like outlets for take-away food, for instance, which have the trappings of status should be developed to attract labour and skills now underutilized.
Family-planning programmes need to broaden their target group to include males. The resistance to modern methods of birth control calls for more personalized monitoring of their effects on young mothers, with a view to alleviating their anxieties about them. Later marriages and smaller families release a vital human resource - female labour - which can no longer be kept out of the mainstream of development activity.
Contrary to general impressions, the study suggests contemporary Sri Lankan society does not necessarily reject tradition or practical commitment to its underlying value system. It was most significant that while some continued rituals and observances out of respect for tradition, most women were convinced of the value of these traditions. This is encouraging in a poor nation which must perforce depend largely on the customary services of its women to care for the weaker members of the population. However, there are two disturbing elements in this situation. One is the particular load it places on women, especially as their caring role is expanded in contemporary socio-economic conditions. The burden and stress of coping with rapid and varied changes somehow appears to fall heavily on the women in the household. The second is the tendency of policy workers to focus on the virtue of women's caring role in order to obviate the necessity for state intervention in this field. Maintaining the tradition of caring for the aged has become burdensome and stressful. Supportive measures like insurance schemes and nursing care through community groups could ease the load considerably. Indeed, they will become imperative in the future, when smaller families will not be able to undertake the responsibilities they are expected to carry now.
Women are inevitably at the centre of the household as an economic unit. However, the imperatives of their role in the wider sphere of economic activity outside the home may encounter cultural barriers which inhibit their effectiveness there. The project revealed the tenacity with which both men and women safeguard the household as the basic social unit. The dilemma of policy-makers, planners, and participants in development is to reconcile the stability of the household with the demands made on its various members to perform outside it in roles and functions that may appear to threaten or destabilize the gender-based structure within it. The evidence of changing male and female attitudes towards specified activities and, to a lesser extent, of changes in the activities themselves, is central to the issue of the impact of development. Though these have occurred both within and beyond the domestic sphere, there has been very little change in the conceptualization of gender roles. Indeed, the strong acceptance of traditional perceptions and norms suggests substantive change in this area is unlikely.
The success of development efforts must hinge very much on the extent to which this and similar real though intangible limitations on its participants are recognized. Future policies must incorporate measures to enhance the contribution of both men and women in ways that are compatible with their intuitive concern for the continued stability of the household and the family.
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