Role of women in agriculture
Rural women in Tunisia have always actively participated in agriculture, working in the field, with livestock on the farm, and in the processing and storage of products for household use and the market. Because women work mainly as unpaid family labour, their quantitative and qualitative contribution to agriculture has not been counted or has been greatly underestimated in statistics. According to a survey by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1990, women provided 23.5% of agricultural labour, not counting transport of water and fuelwood. Women also comprised 34.7% of temporary agricultural workers in 1990.
Division of Labour by Gender. The division of labour differs according to farming system, local tradition and age. In areas where men are engaged in fishing, mining and commerce, or have migrated to urban areas or abroad for jobs, women take on essentially all of the farming tasks. In areas where agriculture is the main source of income, the whole family is engaged in farming with the following division of labour: men are responsible for land preparation, digging pits and cisterns, irrigation, harvesting and livestock herding; women are responsible for hoeing and weeding, caring for livestock within the household enclosure, processing and storage of agricultural products, and artisanal production for home and market of carpets, blankets, baskets and other items. Fishing is essentially the domain of men. Women are responsible for all the household tasks including collection of water and fuelwood, which is used by about 20% of households for cooking.
Gender Relations in Decision-making in Farming Activities. The more women are involved in agricultural activities, the more decision-making power they have. Men retain the decision-making power over the sale, rent and exchange of land and the means of production, including large livestock. Decisions on development planning, large-scale projects and the introduction of technologies and infrastructure are made by male planners without input from rural women or taking into consideration their specific needs.