Gender gaps in smallholder agriculture in Nicaragua and Guatemala: the role of international labor migration

Authors: Claudia Radel*, Utah State University, Lindsey Carte, Universidad de la Frontera, Chile, Birgit Schmook, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Mexico, Richard Lee Johnson, University of Arizona
Topics: Gender, Migration, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Migration, Central America, Smallholders, Gender, Feminization of agriculture
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Proteus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Researchers have demonstrated how male-dominated labor migration can contribute to the feminization of agriculture in smallholder farming systems in the Global South. Male absence through migration can also influence gender gaps in agriculture in different ways. Using data from a household survey, qualitative interviews, and workshops we carried out between 2013 and 2015 with over 500 farming families, we examine the empirical evidence for the feminization of agriculture in four different areas in northwestern Nicaragua and highland and Pacific coast Guatemala. At all four sites, labor migration to the U.S. or neighboring countries plays for many families an important role in maintaining livelihoods based on farming. The survey was conducted using a stratified, random sample, which allows for the comparison of households with and without international labor migration. In particular, we examine gendered differences in labor participation, farm and farm-income decision-making, land tenure, and cattle holdings, and whether any gender gaps vary based on household migration status. Our findings consider the similarities and differences of various kinds of gender gaps in the farming systems, within variable contexts of international labor migration and neoliberal agricultural and land tenure frameworks.

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