Gender roles in agriculture

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Gender roles in agriculture are a frequent subject of study by sociologists and farm economists. Historians also study them, as they are important in understanding the social structure of agrarian, and even industrial, societies. Agriculture provides lots of job opportunities and livelihoods around the world. It can also reflect gender inequality and uneven distribution of resources and privileges among gender.[1] According to the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, women usually have a harder time obtaining land, tools and knowledge than men, especially in developing countries. Several organizations such as Food and Agriculture Organization and independent research have indicated that increasing gender corporation can bring more profits and food security for the community.[2][3][4]

North America[edit]

United States[edit]

The "classical" farm gender roles in the United States, although varying somewhat from region to region, were generally based on a division of labor in which men participated in "field" tasks (animal care, plowing, harvesting crops, using farm machinery, etc.), while most women participated primarily in "farmhouse" tasks (preparing and preserving food and feed-stuffs, and maintaining the farm compound).

According to agro-historian Jane Adams, the middle 20th century brought a change in which the centralization of agriculture eliminated many of the tasks considered part of the "female" role. This changed the perception of women from being active "housekeepers" to passive "homemakers". Some began working off the farm, or joined their husbands in fieldwork, but the majority, per Dr. Adams, simply became more like urban housewives. This trend continued until the 1980s farm crisis, in which economic downturns obliged many of them to take jobs off-farm.[5]

Canada[edit]

Gender roles in Canadian agriculture vary greatly according to the region and community.

Alberta, and particularly Southern Alberta, has traditionally had highly defined gender roles similar to the late 19th-century United States. Men worked together and women worked together, but there were few tasks in which both men and women participated together. On most Alberta farms up until the 1970s, decisions about matters such as planning and insurance were done by fiat of the husband, rather than by joint venture of husband and wife. Some writers have considered Alberta's highly gendered division of farm life to be not only inefficient from an agricultural standpoint, but deleterious to the integrity of marriage relationships as well.

In the agricultural tradition of Central Canada there is an emphasis on conjugal (husband-and-wife) collaboration. Major decisions are normally made together, with each spouse having equal decisive power. When extended families live and farm together, couples within the extended family are considered as working "units". This style of family farm management is rather common in the rest of Canada as well.

Quebec agriculture is based on the historic seigneurial system, vestiges of which exist today in the organized district system. Gender roles are sometimes more pronounced in areas where the Catholic influence is strong.

In Southern Ontario the history of agricultural gender roles parallels that of the U.S.A. almost precisely.

Besides these regional generalities, traditions vary among different ethnic and religious communities, such as First Nations (aboriginal), Anabaptist, or historic immigrant settlements.

Across Canada, and also in the United States, the assignment of roles tends to be more egalitarian on organic and Certified Naturally Grown farms than on "conventional" ones.

Europe[edit]

C.I.S. (former U.S.S.R.)[edit]

Agricultural society in what is now the C.I.S. goes back thousands of years, and entails numerous distinct cultures. Slavonic-speaking societies tended to follow the general Indo-European pattern of patrilineality, passing down property and rights from father to son. In agriculture this meant land and livestock. The gender roles on the farm presumed that the farm and all its contents belonged to the father or grandfather. Uralic-speaking societies, on the other hand, had a relatively egalitarian system in which land was considered to be the domain of a larger extended family or folk group, without rigid boundaries between individual homesteads. Division of labor was not rigid, and spouses often worked alongside each other, or helped each other with various tasks.

During the Russian Empire period, Slavonic patriarchy was emphasized and promoted to a greater extent across the board. This was especially the case in southern and central Russia during the 18th and 19th centuries, where every farmer or farm laborer was considered to hold a position in the feudal hierarchy of the Empire, until this system was modified in the later 19th century. Men were the official landowners and decision-makers, though women often had a significant amount of unofficial influence in decision-making (on the free peasant farmsteads).

In the years leading up to the Revolution, as the remnants of feudalism disintegrated, many Russian farm families joined artels (артели), or cooperatives. The cooperatives practiced (at least in theory) equal consideration of men's and women's opinions in making collective decisions, which was a sharp contrast to the feudal method. Moreover, as the Empire became more connected by rail and road, the rural residents of central and southern Russia gained knowledge of Uralic-based farm operation systems (which had survived in the north and east). These northern and eastern traditions contributed to the emerging cooperative practices.

After the Revolution, the government was initially supportive toward the artel movement (since it is "collectivist"). When the Stalinist government took power, however, many of the artels were superseded by state farm units (sovkhozy or Совхоэӣ) under control of the central government. The effect on gender roles varied: workers of both sexes were assigned to do similar tasks, but managers and overseers were mostly male, though there was no fixed rule or custom that established this as absolute. Fieldworkers often worked in mixed-gender teams, though in the Caucasian and Middle Asian republics an informal segregation by sex was maintained, following local (and ultimately Islamic) traditions. Throughout the Union, state-farm administrators tended to have little regard for marital relationships: marriage was considered part of the workers' personal lives, which needed not enter into the world of economic labor. Children born or conceived on a state farm were considered "bound" to it, in a concept lent from feudalism.

Later governments, from Krushchev's onward, eased the central control of farms, though certain republics (such as Tajikistan) took up this control into their own state governments, and retain much of it even to this day.

With the 1960s loosening of central administration over agriculture, the cooperative system became once again the main system of large-scale farmland operations in much of the U.S.S.R. This condition has remained ever since, with only minor changes.

Where small and extended family farms exist in the C.I.S., consensus is often a major mode of decision-making, and cooperation a major mode of work. On collective farms as well, conjugal collaboration is a respected and encouraged part of the overall dynamic, and couples often work as units within the larger framework. Exceptions include the Chechenya/Dagestan/Naxcivan region, where all areas of life are highly sex-segregated, and marriage is often an arranged contract by the parents.

Finland[edit]

Finnish agriculture tends to follow a modern form of what is recognizably the Uralic system, though the influence of western Europe (particularly in Finland's west half) has brought a greater consciousness of private property. Conjugal collaboration and joint venture are major characteristics of the Finnish farming tradition.

Ireland[edit]

Two thirds of farmland in Ireland is family owned and run for typically over a century. Out of that twelve percent of which are owned by women. Typically men hold more of the productive roles involving the operation and maintenance of the farm while the women hold reproductive roles and tend to the household. Historically this has given most of the power to the male.[6] In Katie Barclay's "Place and Power in Irish Farms at the End of the Nineteenth Century" most of the leverage for decision making would be the use of the houses spaces such as the kitchen as a tool to negotiate for power within the farm.[7] However, in recent years, women are viewed as a legal business holder giving them increasing recognition on the farm enabling them to have input on crucial decisions.[6]

In the article by Roisin Kelly and Sally Shortall (December, 2002), it discusses how due to decreasing income from farming in northern Ireland the women typically get a job outside of the farm to support the farm. This financial move is oftentimes in order to preserve the farm during rough financial times.[8]

Latin America[edit]

Mexico[edit]

In Mexico, the most important crop has been and still is maize. It is the main ingredient in tortillas, which is a staple in Mexican cuisine.[9] Additionally, for many Mexicans, especially those living in rural farming communities, maize symbolizes the origin of life. Women, therefore, are usually the ones responsible for tending the maize crops, although it is not unusual for a man to farm the maize.[10]

Although women have traditionally been responsible for the entire tortilla process, from farming the maize to grinding the maize into flour and cooking the tortillas, this takes a substantial amount of time. Because of this, recently some women have been purchasing bags of tortilla flour or even pre-made tortillas in local markets to better fit their busy lifestyle.[9] This has been controversial among individuals living in rural communities, as many people see the tortilla making process as having high importance in the traditions of their culture.[9]

Another recent controversy in Mexico has to do with the type of maize being grown and consumed. Maíz criollo, or landrace maize, is the most common type of maize grown in Mexico, although recently genetically modified crops are becoming more widespread. In a focus group meeting conducted among Mexican farmers, the men tended to feel that the genetically modified maize was better, as it was easier to farm, while the women tended to say that the landrace maize was better because it was more nutritional and better tasting than the genetically modified maize.[9]

Brazil[edit]

In Brazil, large plantations and fincas are often worked by several families. Fieldwork is a large portion of the workers' time, in the case both of men and of women.

In areas of more scattered agriculture, running water is often unavailable. It is usually women who must carry large water containers home from the stream or well in these cases, even though it is men who usually lift most other heavy loads on the Brazilian ranch, such as harvest sacks.

Among inland indigenous peoples, varying forms of the pan-Amazonian (or pan-Amazon-basin) gender role construct are seen. In these societies, especially those in which polygynous marriage has been practiced, the family unit is considered on two levels, the matrifocal and the patrifocal. Crop plots are owned by the brothers of any patrifocal family collectively; thus, if a man plants a field of any crop, all of his brothers and paternal half-brothers are considered to automatically own an equal share of the harvest.[11]

Chile and Argentina[edit]

Agriculture is varied but consists largely of ranching activity. There is very little emphasis on gender roles in Argentina and Chile, compared to the rest of South America. Names for most agricultural "job descriptions" and individual roles are gender-neutral, with only the final letter changing according to the sex of the individual. The @ symbol is sometimes used, in lieu of either "o" or "a", to describe the general occupation without specifying gender, as in Buscamos puester@s para... (as might be written in a help-wanted poster).

Africa[edit]

In a lot of African countries nowadays, women rights are secondary in the sense that males dominant in assets, ownership, and education.[12] Women are usually in charge of light farming or crop processing, while males have more opportunities to work with livestock and stay out of their household duty.[13] But it also vary with ethnic groups, age and production cycles. Women are also responsible for children care, their financial ability and educational level may post strong influences on children's well-being.[14] Research showed that equine assisted rural women to finish their chores earlier, which provides females more time for children care. Moreover, by empowering women with assets and knowledge, the children's nutritional status may be improved.[15]

Ghana[edit]

60 % farmers that conduct agricultural activities in Ghana are male, most agriculture activities that females engaged in are raising small livestock[16]. More females are willing to work near home, such as doing business. Husbands will provide financial support to wives to buy food. The food cultivated constitutes the man's contribution to the family, the wife needs to make up for other deficiencies through her own efforts, so they are under pressure to get other income for their families. A woman who does not farm can't sell her husband's product, while the husband could sell agricultural products behind his wife's back. It is only when income contributes to household consumption that individual household incomes are added up. This is because families usually depend on one member for farming and the other for selling. To avoid disagreement in income, husbands and wives often work in different income streams. For example, women tend to grow perennial plants (such as pepper) that do not require a strong labor force, while men grow cash crops (such as watermelon, okra, and tomatoes). Compared to growing different kinds of crops, a clearer division of labor between the gender is women will do more marketing. Females sell their products directly to consumers or wholesalers.

Senegal[edit]

Although female family members, such as wives, daughters and nieces, were also involved in agriculture, three quarters of the time men were in charge. There are few women in the poultry and ornamental sectors. One example is the Fedri group in Dakar, 10 km away. Through this group, women are actively investing in urban agriculture. Nine women produce vegetables for sale in the domestic market (okra or tomatoes) or export (green beans) and feed small ruminants such as sheep and beef cattle[17]. They even take care of woodlands and orchards. An ngo is currently funding the panel. Commercial women farmers and producers play different roles in the marketing and processing of agricultural products. Engaging in sales requires very little input and can be a good entry point into the field of agricultural production. Men are generally engaged in high-input, contract production and sales work. More than 90 percent of the retailers in Dakar's free market are women, and almost all of the retail and wholesale shopkeepers who sell a variety of foods, including onions, are men. Most women work as wholesalers as well as retailers of green leafy vegetables and tomatoes.

Tanzania[edit]

Traditionally, men and women share the responsibility of raising a family, but usually women have more responsibilities and obligations than men. Both men and women were involved in farming, but they did different things in different places, therefore, it is closely related to the type of agricultural production system. Female farmers are more numerous and engaged in small-scale production, males are the leaders in terms of production because they tend to be responsible for more land.[18] "Female farming" is good for families because it allows the products to be used for consumption and the extra income to be used for other necessities. Men also contribute a portion of their income, but a relatively small share. In general, equality between men and women is more pronounced on farms outside the city, much like in rural families.

Zimbabwe[edit]

Local women have made great contributions to the development of urban agriculture. They not only invest in labor but also participate in management. On non-fixed land, women's farming accounts for 55% to 63%. Among them, 80% of people are engaged in farming activities on their “own land”[19]. In high-income areas, many women hire other laborers. Of the men working in the fields, 24% are employed laborers, and 59% are helping their wives work. Women dominate the production and sales of urban agriculture. 68.8%[20] of the sales of products are women. Children work for their mothers at almost every stage of production and sales. Like rural women, urban women are responsible for food issues. Compared with men, women spend more time and burden on urban agriculture. Especially when the economy is in recession, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain family livelihoods. As people become more optimistic about urban agriculture, it is not ruled out that men can replace women's dominant position in agricultural production.

Asia[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Network, University of Nebraska-Lincoln | Web Developer. "Does Gender Really Matter in Agriculture? | Agricultural Economics". agecon.unl.edu. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  2. ^ Garcia, Alicea Skye; Wanner, Thomas (2017). "Gender inequality and food security: Lessons from the gender-responsive work of the International Food Policy Research Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation". Food Security. 9 (5): 1091–1103. doi:10.1007/s12571-017-0718-7.
  3. ^ "Shared labour, shared rewards: men and women farming together in Sri Lanka | Gender | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations". www.fao.org. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  4. ^ "Document card | FAO | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations". www.fao.org. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  5. ^ Adams, Jane (1995). "Individualism, efficiency, and domesticity: Ideological aspects of the exploitation of farm families and farm women". Agriculture and Human Values. 12 (4): 2–17. doi:10.1007/BF02218564.
  6. ^ a b Cush, Peter; Macken-Walsh, Áine; Byrne, Anne (2018). "Joint Farming Ventures in Ireland: Gender identities of the self and the social". Journal of Rural Studies. 57: 55–64. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2017.09.017.
  7. ^ Barclay, Katie (2012). "Place and Power in Irish Farms at the End of the Nineteenth Century1". Women's History Review. 21 (4): 571–588. doi:10.1080/09612025.2012.658171.
  8. ^ Kelly, Roisin; Shortall, Sally (2002). "'Farmers' wives': Women who are off-farm breadwinners and the implications for on-farm gender relations". Journal of Sociology. 38 (4): 327–343. doi:10.1177/144078302128756714.
  9. ^ a b c d Hellin, Jon; Keleman, Alder; Bellon, Mauricio (2010). "Maize diversity and gender: Research from Mexico". Gender & Development. 18 (3): 427–437. doi:10.1080/13552074.2010.521989.
  10. ^ Bee, Beth A. (2014). ""Si no comemos tortilla, no vivimos:" women, climate change, and food security in central Mexico". Agriculture and Human Values. 31 (4): 607–620. doi:10.1007/s10460-014-9503-9.
  11. ^ Chagnon, N. 1972
  12. ^ "AFRINT". The Department of Human Geography. 2014-09-12. Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  13. ^ "The State of Food and Agriculture | FAO | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations". www.fao.org. Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  14. ^ "Voices from Women research project | Brooke". www.thebrooke.org. Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  15. ^ Van Der Meulen Rodgers, Yana; Kassens, Alice Louise (2018). "Women's asset ownership and children's nutritional status: Evidence from Papua New Guinea". Social Science & Medicine. 204: 100–107. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.03.026. PMID 29602089.
  16. ^ Axumite G.Egziabher et al,《Cities Feeding People—An Examination of Urban Agriculture in East Africa》, International Development Research Centre(IDRC)
  17. ^ Richter J,Schnitzler WH&Gura S(eds).1995.Vegetable production in periurban areas in the tropics and subtropics:food,income and quality of life-proceedings of an international workshop,Zschortau,14-17 November 1994. Feldafing,Germany:Food and Agriculture Development Centre(ZEL),German Foundation for International Development(DSE)
  18. ^ Agriculture in Tanzania Since 1986 Followers or Leader of Growth? / Government of the United Republic of Tanzania ; the World Bank ; International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C: World Bank, 2000. Print.
  19. ^ Ndlovu, Patrick V. et al. “Productivity and Efficiency Analysis of Maize Under Conservation Agriculture in Zimbabwe.” Agricultural Systems 124 (2014): n. pag. Print.
  20. ^ Ndlovu, Patrick V. et al. “Productivity and Efficiency Analysis of Maize Under Conservation Agriculture in Zimbabwe.” Agricultural Systems 124 (2014): n. pag. Print.
  • The Farm Journal's Discourse of Farm Women's Femininity. Adams, Jane. Southern Illinois University.
  • The Home and Farm Manual, Jonathan Periam, Commissioner of USDA, pub. 1884, reprinted 1984.
  • Bee, Beth A. (2014). ""Si no comemos tortilla, no vivimos:" women, climate change, and food security in central Mexico". Agriculture and Human Values. 31 (4): 607–620. doi:10.1007/s10460-014-9503-9.
  • Hellin, Jon; Keleman, Alder; Bellon, Mauricio (2010). "Maize diversity and gender: Research from Mexico". Gender & Development. 18 (3): 427–437. doi:10.1080/13552074.2010.521989.
  • Cush, Peter; Macken-Walsh, Áine; Byrne, Anne (2018). "Joint Farming Ventures in Ireland: Gender identities of the self and the social". Journal of Rural Studies. 57: 55–64. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2017.09.017.
  • Kelly, Roisin; Shortall, Sally (2002). "'Farmers' wives': Women who are off-farm breadwinners and the implications for on-farm gender relations". Journal of Sociology. 38 (4): 327–343. doi:10.1177/144078302128756714.
  • Barclay, Katie (2012). "Place and Power in Irish Farms at the End of the Nineteenth Century1". Women's History Review. 21 (4): 571–588. doi:10.1080/09612025.2012.658171.

External links[edit]