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Sources of data


Information relating to the labour force presented in Tables 2, 3 and 4 is derived from data on the economically active population collected in population censuses and labour force surveys. These are, in fact, the most appropriate sources of information about the labour force and employment in general and the agricultural/non-agricultural differentials in labour force participation. However, as a result of measurement problems (discussed in Box 1, Annex 1), it is clear that the extent of women's participation in agricultural work can be significantly underestimated in these sources. Consequently, efforts should be made to improve measurement techniques, in order to quantify more accurately the extent of female participation in agricultural work. Furthermore, more accurate details regarding the different categories of agricultural labour, as well as the hours worked (including gender differentials), should be obtained from these sources through the appropriate retabulation of the results.


Agricultural censuses and surveys usually focus on the basic characteristics relating to production technologies and land use. The FAO Programme for the World Census of Agriculture 2000 (WCA 2000) has put special emphasis on various items that can provide gender-related structural information on agricultural activities. The Programme recommends that a comprehensive cross-tabulation of the following items be made by the sex of the landholder:

The comprehensive structural data described above can provide not only additional information on the economic status of holders by sex, but also more insight into agricultural practices, in order to study whether efficiency and productivity are related to the sex of the holder. However, in using these data, it should be remembered that agricultural censuses are generally conducted using agricultural holdings as the unit of enumeration, so that the data listed above relate to both the members of the holder's household as well as to the individual holder. Following are some examples of the important areas that can be analysed with these items of data:

However, to be useful for both users and analysts, the information collected needs to be tabulated and presented in a form that emphasizes the relevant gender issues.


Since land productivity and the extent to which land can provide income for holders are limited, other (non-agricultural) sources of income are necessary to improve the status of female workers. Generally, agricultural censuses and surveys do not collect comprehensive data on the non-agricultural activities of agricultural households. Thus, household surveys are essential to address such issues for the purpose of agricultural and rural development. Most of the data normally required for relevant programmes are collected in household income/expenditure surveys. The information refers to the details of income and expenditure classified by the sex and economic activity of the head of household. However, special tabulations need to be undertaken.

The retabulation of data can provide details for compiling agricultural household sector accounts, classified by the sex of the head of household. These data can be used to study and compare the economic behaviour of agricultural households. Depending on the interest of the policy-makers, however, it should also be feasible to generate cross-tabulations as listed below to study various distributions relating to economic status:


Reliable information on the contribution of men and women to production and consumption, as well as income generation in agriculture, cannot be obtained from the existing national censuses and surveys, largely because the unit of data collection for output and consumption is not an individual but holdings or households. To obtain such information, it is necessary to use time-use surveys, allowing for double measurement strategies of production and consumption variables - in time units as well as in value units, both at the individual and household levels. Time-use methods of data collection and measurement also make it possible to address productivity issues at the individual and household levels. Thus, when time-use data are added to data on the physical output of individuals and households, it becomes possible to determine whether a decrease in time input corresponds to a decrease in quantity or quality of individual or household output, or whether the time decrease shows that productivity of the individual or household has increased. Various methods for monetary valuation of household work are also available for approximating measurements (e.g. in orders of magnitude) of the income of informal family or farm workers from various routine household and farming activities. Indeed, in agriculture these activities are often dispersed in territory and time, which creates difficulties in recording them systematically.3These difficulties can be addressed by combinations of anthropological and statistical methods of data collection, providing qualitative indicators in addition to quantitative measures and methods of analysis (FAO, 1996).

3 For a more detailed review of these issues, see FAO (1978).

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