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Gender-related agricultural statistics: problems and significant activities




Problems of methods

In some countries cash crop production determines the minimum size for measured holdings. This excludes a significant number of smallholdings where women produce food. The information overlooked is of great importance for policy formulation and planning to improve rural living conditions and food security.

In population surveys and censuses, the participation of women in agriculture is largely underreported but some data show the extent of "invisible" work. According to the 1991 Indian Census, 73 percent of rural women were not economically active (ESCAP, 1993). But a survey by the Ministry of Planning in 1987/88 showed that, of women engaged in housework and classified as not economically active, 60 percent of rural and 15 percent of urban women collected fuelwood, fodder or foodstuffs, maintained kitchen gardens or fruit-trees, or raised poultry or cattle. Moreover, 52 percent of rural women and 9 percent of urban women prepared cow dung cakes for fuel, and 63 percent of rural and 32 percent of urban women collected water from outside the household premises (ESCAP, 1993; Table 12, p. 43). All these activities are considered to be economic activities in System of National Accounts (SNA) and ILO recommendations.

In Pakistan, women's official economic participation rate varies from 3 percent (according to the country's 1981 Population Census) to 12 percent (according to the Labour Force Survey of the same year). Yet its 1980 Census of Agriculture estimated that 73 percent of women in agricultural households were economically active (UNICEF, n.d.). The Labour Force Survey of 1990/91 showed women's economic activity rates of 7 percent when using the conventional questionnaire and 31 percent when questions on specific activities such as transplanting rice, picking cotton, grinding, drying seeds and tending livestock were also included (UN, 1992).

In Bangladesh, labour force participation of women was 10 percent according to the Labour Force Survey of 1985/86. When, in 1989, the Labour Force Survey included specific activities such as threshing, food processing and poultry rearing, the economic activity rate went up to 63 percent (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 1991).

Source: UN (1995, p. 114).




The following are the most significant initiatives aimed rendering agricultural statistics more sensitive to gender issues. They illustrate the variety of actions taken to tackle issues ranging from advocacy to field activities.

The Inter-Agency Consultation on Gender, Statistics and Database on Gender in Agricultural and Rural Development reviewed the definitions and methods used in collecting gender-disaggregated data.

The Women in Development Plan of Action stressed the importance of gender-disaggregated data, not only in the formulation of policy and strategy for the integration of women in development, but also in extension and training activities and technical activities to improve agricultural production and food security.

The World Food Summit Plan of Action underlined the need to improve the quality and transmission of information on, and for, women.

In collaboration with international NGOs associated with FAO, an Information Campaign on Rural Women was launched and the International Symposium "Invest in Rural Women through Training and Information" was held in Rome on 15 October, World Rural Women's Day.

For World Food Day on 16 October, the choice of "Women feed the world" as a theme made it possible to produce a number of print and audiovisual documents to demonstrate the contribution of women to food security and to sensitize international public opinion.

A Subregional Workshop on User-Producer Statistics was held in Zimbabwe.

A series of relevant publications, guidelines and training manuals have been issued. Several pilot projects have been initiated to: i) execute a regional evaluation concerning the collection and processing of data disaggregated by sex on human resources in agriculture; ii) develop links between the agricultural and population censuses including surveys on households and labour; and iii) technically promote and support the establishment of an African network of statisticians in the agricultural and social science fields.

A project was implemented in four countries in southern Africa (Zimbabwe, the United Republic of Tanzania, Swaziland and Mozambique), aiming to improve understanding and information-sharing of gender-specific knowledge and traditional expertise with regard to conservation and biodiversity.

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