International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
Catchment: An Answer to the Water Scarcity of the Next Millennium."
Petrolina, Brazil - July 1999
Section 6: Gender and Community Related Aspects of Rainwater Catchment
Women in Community Communication in the Watershed
Jessica Calfoforo Salas
Kahublagan Sang Panimalay Fnd Inc.
Communication is a vital element in working with watershed
protection, rainwater catchment maintenance, or forest rehabilitation.
Communication is, in fact, the heart of development work. It facilitates new
understanding, new concepts and ideas. It bridges cultures, it encourages, as
well as making people think and act. It could give new directions and enable
people to move and leap or it could stifle them with fear, ignorance, and
apathy. People cannot not communicate. Communicating means living.
This is the experience of a group of women doing
rehabilitation work in two watersheds in the central part of the Philippines.
These women held hands with the women in the community in order to forge the
difficult part of convincing the whole community to participate in the work of
protection and rehabilitation of two natural rainwater catchment basins, the
headwaters of a major watershed on an island.
The learning of these women in communication and development
is expressed in this paper. The learning dwells on the roles, time structure,
hierarchical status and the prevailing mode of relationships of women, which
had allowed them to experience the value of communication. This experience has
an extensive influence in the forming of communication strategies (personal or
organizational) to infuse change or development. For example, the effectiveness
of a mother's role in child rearing is dependent on her personal communication
strategies. A woman's prevalent role as a teacher at home, at school or in the
community also demonstrates the effectiveness of communication. Nursing the
sick, another popular role of women utilizes extensively communication not only
at the physical level - both verbal and non-verbal, but also communication of
empathy, sympathy, concern, caring, and other spiritual attributes.
Indeed, time is the essence, but for a woman, time is fluid
and unconstraining. Time spent in nurturing, in nursing, in school, is not
counted by the hours but by progress and intensity. Woman has learned and
experienced that time, as a value, is not dominating but rather allows the
leisure and the pleasure of molding and change. Many women have believed those
men saying that in order to be productive, time should be precise and be
allowed to control man. Many women of the cities have succumbed to such ideas
but rural women are far from it. They have not reckoned time, yet they have
accomplished much. This kind of valuing time (not simply called patience) has
been a critical element in development communication.
In organizations, whether of social, political or economic
in nature, women 's status is generally not on top. More so for a mountain
woman, she occupies the middle or even the lower middle or the bottom levels.
She is not isolated, she always relates with people, identifies with others and
feels with them. This experience brings into fore the mode of relationships
with others. The woman experiences lateral or horizontal modes of relationship,
and not authority-based relationship. The demands and quality of peer
relationship and peer leadership require unique skills in communication
different from that of a managerial or authority-based relationship. To get
things done, the woman has to handle communication effectively, not just the
use of power.
With this woman-advantage, women from a development
organization touched base with the women in the watershed.
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