The feminization of smallholder agriculture in the Global South Session 3

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group, Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Proteus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Organizers: Holly Worthen, Tad Mutersbaugh, Christopher Bacon
Chairs: Holly Worthen


The feminization of smallholder agricultural production has become more pronounced over the last few decades, as women take on new tasks in agricultural production and increasingly become farm managers and operators (Deere 2005, Lastarria-Cornhiel 2006). This shift is widely felt, exerting notable impacts upon rural women´s lives and gender relations, commodity-chain politics, and rural environmental management initiatives (e.g., environmental services). Having greater rates of agricultural participation often provides women with increased decision-making power, control over resources, and access to their own rural spaces. Nonetheless, structural changes may leave women farmers as "weak winners", left to subsidize through social reproductive labors the costs of semi-proletariat agricultural subsistence and capitalist production (Kabeer 2005, Dunaway 2014). In particular, existing ‘gender asset gaps’ indicate that despite greater involvement in agriculture, women remain less likely to own property, and own smaller plots than men (Deere & Doss 2006, Lyon et al 2017). Gender gaps are also experienced in terms comparatively limited access to credit, extension and market information (Fletschner & Kenney 2011, Meinzen-Dick et al 2011, Allen & Sachs 2007). Women may also have difficulty mobilizing labor due to social constraints, and face time constraints due to livelihood and childcare responsibilities (Quisumbing & Pandolfelli 2009).

In this session we aim to explore the challenges that women farmers face in the Global South, particularly in relationship with local discourses and practices of gender equality. We are interested in research papers that examine various aspects of the feminization of smallholder agriculture in a wide variety of social and agronomic contexts, be it for subsistence or market, north or south, and assess issues of value, gendered roles and identities, and access to spaces of power are negotiated (at household, community, or market scales). Related questions might include (but not be limited to!): How does the feminization of smallholder agriculture affect women´s access to land tenure, and how does land tenure informs other gendered relations? How does women´s participation in agricultural cooperatives generate new forms of organizational politics? How does the feminization of agriculture shape gendered struggles at multiple scales (i.e., households, communities, national policies), and what do these struggles entail?

Allen, P. & C. Sachs. 2007. Women and food chains: The gendered politics of food. International Journal of Sociology of Food and Agriculture 15(1): 1-23.

Deere, C. 2005. The Feminization of Agriculture?: Economic Restructuring in Rural Latin America. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
Deere, C. D., & Doss, C. R. 2006. The gender asset gap: What do we know and why does it matter? Feminist Economics 12(1-2):1-50.

Dunaway, W.A., ed. 2014. Gendered Commodity Chains: Seeing Women’s Work and Households in Global Production. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Fletschner, D. & L. Kenney. 2011. Rural Women’s Access to Financial Services: Credit, Savings and Insurance. ESA Working Paper No. 11-07. March 2011.

Kabeer, N. 2005. Gender equality and women’s empowerment: a critical analysis of the third Millennium Development Goal. Gender and Development 13(1): 13-24.

Lastarria-Cornhiel, S. 2006. Feminization of Agriculture: Trends and Driving Forces. Background paper for the World Development Report 2008.

Lyon, S, Mutersbaugh, T. & H. Worthen (2017). The triple burden: the impact of time poverty on women’s participation in coffee producer organizational governance in Mexico. Agriculture and Human Values 34: 317-331.
Meinzen-Dick, R., A. Quisumbing, J. Behrman, P. Biermayr-Jenzano, V. Wilde, M. Noordeloos, C. Ragasa & N. Beintema. 2011. Engendering Agricultural Research, Development and Extension. International Food Policy Research Institute. Washington D.C.

Quisumbing, A. R. & L. Pandolfelli. 2009. Promising Approaches to Address the Needs of Poor female Farmers: Resources, Constraints, and Interventions. World Development 38(4): 581- 592.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Margaret Adesugba*, Newcastle University, Elizabeth Oughton, Center for Rural Economy, Newcastle University, Sally Shortall, Center for Rural Economy, Newcastle University , Mwana Othman, Newcastle University , All Roads Lead to Market Days: Institutional Arrangements for Women Participation in Cooperatives in Nigeria and Zanzibar. 20 2:00 PM
Presenter Lisa Kelley*, University of California, Berkeley, Chris Bacon, Santa Clara University, Iris Stewart-Frey, Santa Clara University, William Sundstrom, Santa Clara University, Gender, Institutions, and Access to Food and Water in Lean Times: A Comparative Case Study in Northern Nicaragua 20 2:20 PM
Presenter Tad Mutersbaugh*, University of Kentucky, 21st century cooperatives and gender equality: financialization, gender and participation in three Mexican coffee producer coops 20 2:40 PM

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