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The agricultural sector was the hardest hit during the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Because of declining employment opportunities and family incomes, women had to engage in multiple economic activities, including selling cooked food to farm workers, engaging in backyard swine raising, picking of duck eggs, working as laundry women or domestic helpers, and whenever possible, participating in rice transplanting. Land conversion of agriculture to non-agriculture enterprises led also to lost opportunities for agricultural workers. Displaced women have become operators of a variety of stores and eateries, and assistants in retail shops. To a certain extent, the shift from rice to vegetable and fruit production has also limited women's participation in wage work. Though beneficial to farming households, the same is not true for landless agricultural workers, since this meant limited work. The shift in crop not only limits the number of workers but also the type of agricultural work engaged in by rural workers (Illo and Ofreneo, 2002).

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In a predominantly male industry such as agriculture, women's economic participation is further limited following socially ascribed roles and responsibilities for women and men. Women's work was seen largely as an extension of their reproductive and domestic functions in the home. Hence, government programmes benefited men more than women such as in the agrarian reform beneficiaries' development programme, and distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership Agreement and Emancipation Patents and extension services. (ADB, 2004). Women beneficiaries however, exceeded men in programmes on loans for agricultural and fishery-related businesses (Philippine NGO BPA+10 Report, 2005).

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