Few rural roads programs have included the gender dimension in their strategy. Peru is an exception and gives the opportunity to poor rural women to express their transport needs in participatory workshops, resulting in the inclusion of non-motorized transport tracks. Based on interviews with beneficiaries, Peruvian rural women seem to have particularly benefited from the rural roads program, with greater access to markets, less time lost to get food and fuel and greater participation in local politics. In addition, the effect of this program on improved access to health and education services have been found to be greater in the case of women.
The program paid particular attention to the role of women, requiring at least 10 percent of the micro-enterprise members and at least 20 percent of road committee members to be women. Their participation showed that they are keen to provide feedback on how lack of transport services affects their day-to-day lifestyles. It also offered them economic opportunities linked to road maintenance activities that would otherwise not have been available to them (24% of the micro-entrepreneurs are now women). In direct response to the transport needs expressed by women, phase 2 of the program supported improvements not only to the roads connecting to the communities but also to non-motorized tracks, which are most often used by women and commonly ignored by road upgrading. In beneficiary communities there was greater openness to women using health centers and going to markets. Overall, the participation of women in the program facilitated the acquisition of new skills, knowledge, and confidence, with a social and personal impact for both women and their families: (i) men and women had a social a more balanced distribution of domestic work at home and in the community; (ii) women improved their self-image and increased their income; (iii) women’s participation contributed to the emergence of a new image of gender relations in the social and cultural life of the communities’ local organizations.