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Gender and Poverty Alleviation

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					Women’s Roles in Agriculture

Women’s participation in
agriculture

 Produce 60-80% of food supply in
  most developing countries
 54% of those economically active in
  agriculture are women
 Women produce half of the world’s
  food overall
 In Southeast Asia, women provide up to 90%
 of labor for rice cultivation

 In sub-Saharan Africa, women produce up to
 80% of basic foodstuffs for consumption and
 sale

 Women perform 25-45% of agricultural work
 in Colombia and Peru

 Women make up 53% of agricultural workers
 in Egypt
FAO official in 1998


 “Despite the fact that women are the world‟s
 principal food producers and providers, they
 remain „invisible‟ partners in development. A lack
 of available gender disaggregated data means that
 women‟s contribution to agriculture is poorly
 understood and their specific needs ignored in
 development planning.”
Harvesting grain in India
Harvesting rice in Myanmar
Planting potatoes in Bolivia
Harvesting rice in Tanzania
Processing cassava in Ghana
Yemeni agricultural workers
Maize in Malawi
India, wet rice
Women participate in agriculture as….


 Unpaid family workers


 “Own-account” workers or entrepreneurs


 Wage workers
While families sometimes work together, there is
usually a gender division of labor in agriculture



 Male farming systems tend to be based
  on plow technology
 Female farming systems tend to be based
  on hoe technology
 Men and women often produce different
  crops
 Women often grow “home gardens”
Home gardens:


 Are exclusively for household consumption
 Contain complex combinations of crops
 Provide variety for diet
 Are easily accessible for work and
 harvesting
Garden plots in Sri Lanka
Home gardens in Mauritania
How do women’s agricultural activities differ
from men’s?


 Women produce a larger proportion of
  staple crops (wheat, corn, millet) than non-
  staples (like tobacco, coffee, sugar)
 More of the crops that women produce are
  consumed by the family and not marketed
 Therefore, women’s agricultural
  production has a more direct effect on
  family nutrition
How does women’s agricultural
production affect child well-being?


 Studies have shown that women are more
 likely to use scarce resources to feed
 children than men are (Haddad, Hoddinott
 and Alderman 1997, Smith and Chavas
 1997).
Women as conservators of agricultural
knowledge and biodiversity
 Because women grow more “traditional” crops,
  they may have specialized knowledge of local
  plant varieties (rather than using imported
  seeds)
 Because women grow a greater variety of crops,
  they become managers of seed stocks and
  agricultural bio-diversity
 In home gardens, women grow and experiment
  with specialized plants for medicinal purposes,
  spices, etc.
Sorting cabbage seed in Bangladesh
Rwandan beans
 How would you expect modernization and technological
change to affect women’s roles in agriculture?
Researchers of the 1970s and 80s argued that as
agriculture modernized, women’s role would decrease


 Because introducing plows in order to increase
 production would shift responsibility to men

 Because gender rules in many societies would
 make new technologies, credit, and inputs more
 easily available to men

 Because Western development agencies tend to
 target male farmers
Problems women face in upgrading their agricultural
practices

 Difficulties obtaining land titles or secure tenure

 A study of five African countries found that
  women receive less than 10% of available
  agricultural credit

 Only 15% of the world’s agricultural extension
  agents are women, and most extension services
  are focused on cash crops

 FAO has found that most new farm tools are
  designed for men
FAO document
Feminization of Agriculture, FAO document
Some factors leading to “feminization of
agriculture”



 Male out-migration from rural areas


 Warfare


 Male mortality from HIV/AIDS
Some effects of feminization of agriculture

 Women are taking over crops and chores
 formerly done by men as well as their own tasks,
 leading to vastly increased workload

 Increased workload may make it necessary to
 adjust cropping patterns and farming systems

 Increases in workload may make it difficult to
 maintain farming infrastructure
One woman’s day in Sierra Leone
What kinds of support do women farmers need?
 Secure access to land and titling


 Labor saving technologies, new and appropriate
  tools

 Access to credit and inputs


 Rural organizations that can help them obtain
  resources and represent their interests
Receiving credit in Bangladesh
Agricultural extension work in Indonesia
    Women’s farming organization in India
Rural Organization in India
In the fruit-picking sector, 75% of women work more than 60 hours a
                week in season, on temporary contracts.
São Francisco Valley, Brazil
Women Agricultural Worker’s Activism

Food Sovereignty Movements

Anti-Pesticide Movements

Fair Trade and Labor Rights Groups

				
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