Thank you very much for the insights from Ethiopia, Dr Kebede. Please could you also share the paper you mention, or provide references? It would be interesting to understand in more detail why female headed households are doing better in terms of dietary diversity score. Is it because of a smaller household size? Are they male absent households? What are the processes and mechanisms through which better outcomes are being achieved? This can be very useful for our own practice.
Contributions for 通过妇女赋权转变农业中的性别关系：改善营养成果的益处、挑战和权衡
I would like to share my experience and though focusing on question # 4, what is the link between dietary diversity, women’s engagement with agriculture, and access to ecosystem services?
As we all know, agricultural livelihoods affect nutrition of individual household members through multiple pathways and interactions. Among the multiple pathways, the following three pathways in particular are viewed as potentially promising entry points for improving nutritional status of smallholder household members through enhancing diet quality:
- Food production (Diversifying production to include nutritious fruits, vegetables and animal products)
- Agricultural income (Improving smallholder commercialization to generate income to purchase a healthier diet)
- Women’s empowerment including the decision-making power related to income, time, labor, assets, and knowledge or preferences of female which enable them to improve their purchasing decisions, healthcare decisions, family planning decisions, and spousal communication. Since this discussion is focused on transforming gender relations in agriculture through women’s empowerment, let me focus only on the role of the third pathways to improve household dietary diversity score (HDDS) based on evidence.
A study conducted by Jenifer Coates and Tina Galante in Ethiopia to assess production diversity and women empowerment revealed that for male headed households, the result shows that each 1, 000 birr of additional agricultural income was associated with 0.04 food group increase in HDDS (p<0.01). The coefficient on the interaction of female households headship with total agricultural income was significantly positive, at 0.07, meaning agricultural commercialization had a larger effect on household dietary diversity for female headed household (P<0.010) .
The same study also disclosed that female asset ownership and literacy were much stronger and significantly associated with dietary diversity than were agricultural income or production diversity. Female assets ownership was associated with a significantly higher probability of the consumption of roots, vegetables, oils/fat, sugar/honey, and meat (all significant at P<0.05, or less) whereas female literacy was only found to be significantly associated with a 48% increase in pulse consumption (P<0.05)
Impact Assessment of Yekokeb Berhan Program (USAID Funded Program implemented in Ethiopia) also revealed that the proportion of target beneficiaries (mostly female household head) that eat three plus meals per day has increased from 49% at baseline to over 78%, while non-target beneficiaries were more likely to have only two meals per day.
These findings tell us agriculture programs that empower women and enable them to have greater control over asset and other decision-making will likely see improved dietary diversity. Therefore to enable women in South Asia to manage the competing pressures of agriculture, childcare and household responsibilities to improve household wellbeing and nutrition, programs and policies better to be designed to improve Economic opportunities of women focusing on:
- Improving women’s access to financial services
- Promoting a savings culture
- Building women’s capacity to better select and manage their economic enterprises and resources
- Increasing women’s incomes and ability to create assets
It seems important to advocate for a recognition of women's contributions to agriculture, in fact, for women as farmers, in all of South Asia, including Bangladesh. This really seems like a first step to ensure that women then have equal access to benefits and services in their own right. Such policy change will not happen without our collective advocacy. In India, a few years ago, the Women Farmers' Entitlement Bill was introduced by Professor M.S Swaminathan as a private member's bill in Parliament. This was however not taken up. There is now a network of over 70 women farmers' organisations across the country, called Makaam, which is in the process of drafting a revised bill, with support from UN Women and the National Commission for Women. Legal recognition will at least provide a basis for claiming these rights. Given women's central role in agriculture, this needs to be prioritised.
Really happy to hear about the initiatives taken by the Agriculture University at Faisalabad. I think it is very important for agriculture graduates to be sensitised to gender differences in roles and needs and respond to them. Joan Mencher has raised an important issue about small implements and animal power. We need to understand why a strong cultural taboo remains and how this can be changed? With women having the major responsibility for farming, we need to make sure that their work and contribution are recognised by policy-makers and extension workers. At the same time, we need to try and develop technologies and tools that can reduce the drudgery of their activities in farming. We also need to develop technologies to reduce the drudgery of domestic work and free up some time for child care and nutrition.
Thanks Joan very much for your comments and queries. I have followed your work in south India for several decades, and your 1988 paper in the collection edited by Dwyer and Bruce, A Home Divided, remains one of my favourites. The insights from that paper are still relevant today and pertinent to this discussion. While women contribute most of their income to household needs, including nutrition, why do gender wage gaps persist in agriculture? Secondly, as you rightly point out below, agricultural work remains more compatible with child care and domestic work than factory work. In recent research in Coimbatore district, I found that younger women did prefer working in factories for a few years, but had no choice but to give this up, at least temporarily, following the birth of a child. In the absence of reliable and good quality child care, reproductive work gets prioritised.
I am really struck by your comments on animal power and small implements, and how these lead to a displacement of women's labour. I would really appreciate if you could share any insights/research/papers on this theme, including on SRI. There have been few recent studies on gender divisions of labour in agriculture and how these are changing, except for the reporting of a general feminisation in the context of male migration. I would have thought that in the absence of men, investments in tools and technologies would increase, but from your comments it sounds as if when technologies are introduced, particular activities may be commoditised and performed by men for a wage, rather than by women farmers, who in India are still recorded as 'unpaid household workers'.
Your work on control of decision-making also sounds very interesting. I too found that women want to control decisions in relation to farming and have developed their own ways of resistance if they are forced into something they don't want to do. The forms of influence vary with context - in North India I found women doing the work and making the decisions, yet attributing these to men, in order to maintain a facade of male control in a patriarchal context. Please do share some of your recent work on control over decisions as well as the role of implements and animal power in shifting divisions of work in agriculture.
A final point in response to your comment on managing agriculture and childcare. While clearly agriculture is more flexible than other forms of paid work, it was interesting to find during a recent study of Kudumbashree groups in Kerala, that women with young children were largely excluded from these groups. Perhaps they are not able to fulfil the labour commitments at the allocated times by the group, though they do manage their own farms.
To have a better future ahead as a society and country there is need to create gender equality. Women being most vulnerable group in South Asian region need to be empowered. As most of our economy depends on agriculture and women had played vital role in field yet have been unrecognised. In University of Agriculture Faisalabad, there programs being launched for women empowerment and gender sensitization in which rural women are being focused in terms of agribusinesses, health and sanitization, education and malnutrition issues.
I have been working on women's involvement in agriculture in India for close to half a century. My intensive work has been primarily in South India, especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. One issue that I find left out of most discussion has to do with cultural attitudes towards women being allowed to make use of animal power, and more important for the present, their being allowed to use implements (such as some of the new ones being devised for sRI agriculture,) and women loosing work in agriculture as soon as implements to help do the work are introduced. I have published before on this, but am really struck by this right now. While I have been supporting the use of SRI/SCI approaches over the past 10 years, I have been really horrified that the moment implements come on the scene, then men claim the right to do the work women have been doing from time immemorial. I refer especially to weeding or the equivalent etc. I can wrote more about this, but first need to know if I can join the group writing ion this issue, and what kind of articles or information you want. While the women I knew best, especially the Dalit women liked working in the fields, certainly they were aware if the pains they had from doing this work. Still, it has meant a great deal to them. I have been told that ih Andhra Pradesh (and maybe in Telangana) women are allowed to use implements but I need to check this out further. Certainly in Kerala and Tamil Nadu they have not been. They have been able to manage their competing tasks quite well, especially with the help of both the elderly and even by bringing small children with them to sleep under trees. The women who do agriculture have always been clear that they do not want to give it up, unless they have access to other well-paying work. I would be glad to send you some iof my many articles and materials on this, but first I want to know what would be helpful. One thing I do know is that apart from areas where the daughters (even dalits) have SSLC degrees and can get factory employment by commuting to nearby factories, they might be willing to give up agriculture, but not elsewhere. I am preparing a paper for a meeting in November on this issue. Above all, they do not want outsiders (including the elites) or even (their own men) making their decisions about work for them. I was last in one of the tamil nadu areas where this is happening in February of 2015, but I also do manage to keep in touch with people there. Often some of the poorer women have even asked me to be their spokeswomen for them. My former assistant, who runs an NGO in northern Tamil Nadu is on the ground and can speak on the behalf of the female agricultural labourers not only in this area but in all of the rice producing areas of Tamil Nadu. The Organization she has founded is GUIDE and her name is Vasantha. She is a mature woman with considerable experience on this issue.
I am a retired Professor of Anthropology from the City Un. of New York and have lived in India for over 20 years scattered in one month to two year segments. I first started in 1958. I expect to be back in India next winter.
Dear Paul, I really like that you capture video footage and are able to use the same to shape policies and gain recognition for the intervention. Would you be able to share some Youtube links, as well as some documented success stories of the kind of policy impact you have had please? Look forward!
We all know that food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth. Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering, and agriculture. The primitive method of securing food was dominated by men. But when agriculture came to action in securing food the role of women were obvious. We all know that the women is the pioneer of agriculture. But in country like Bangladesh in a men dominating households and societies these role seldom recognized. Earlier women were more engaged on post harvest activities but recently they are very much engaged in on farm activities like seeding/transplanting, intercultural operations and harvesting. Very often women engagement in agriculture is treated as household work and thus gets less recognition. Even in the paid labour there exists huge wage differences between men and women. Since nutrition cannot be achieved without agriculture, the role and contribution of women in agriculture must be evaluated. This lead in changing the societal norms and traditions.
I am working with the agriculture engineers at the University of Cordoba in Monteria Colombia to start a video training program called “Success in Cordoba and Uraba”. In this program we will make videos of extremely poor Colombian citizens who have made a successful first step out of poverty using better agricultural procedures. It is expected that international development personnel will help write the video scripts. Examples of the videos we will make include videos of people who have doubled their income using better cassava planting procedures developed at the University of Cordoba, videos of people who have successfully overcome the technological hurdle of producing 3-10 chickens to producing 50-1000 chickens, and videos of people who have successfully overcome the technological hurdle of producing 1-5 pigs to producing 15-50 pigs. These videos will be distributed to 20 municipios in Cordoba (there are 30 but the 10 agriculture engineers only work in 20) so that other campesinos can do use the same ideas. In these You Tube vocational videos we expect to capture experiences about women’s roles in agriculture and agribusiness value chains in order to shape policies and interventions to recognize and support women’s contribution to livelihood security.