MK1: Gender, Livelihoods &
Decision-making
A qualitative study in a hydropower
resettlement site in Lao PDR
N. Weeratunge,...
Key Messages
A person’s livelihood decision-making is about
choosing one option over others
 These choices are shaped by ...
Objectives of the study


To validate results on
decision-making in the
MK1 Household
Livelihoods Survey in Lao
PDR
◦ A r...
The complexity of decision-making


Decisions relate to a range of livelihood
activities,
◦ farming, fishing, provisionin...
Conceptual approach on decisionmaking builds on:


Social wellbeing approach (McGregor
2008)
◦ What a person/HH considers...
Conceptual framework: Social
wellbeing


a material dimension which focuses
on what (resources) a person has
and the exte...
Gender analysis: Social relations
approach (based on norms and practices)
social relations


determine gender roles, righ...
Key methods/tools (Ethnographic)






Focus group gender-disaggregated tool to
assess a complex range of decisions and...
Study context








Theun Himboun dam –
upstream resettlement site in
Bolikhamxay Province
181 HHs resettled from f...
Results from livelihood
trajectories
Women

Men

I got married at 17 years and moved to my
husband’s house in Thambing village. Our main
farming was shifting c...
Key results from livelihood
trajectories
Most livelihoods decisions are considered to be
“joint”
 Decisions relating to u...
Factors influencing decisionmaking: Values
All

Men

Food/rice security (M, S)

Upland rice as tradition/identity
(R,S)

S...
I would say that rubber plantation work is not hard as
upland rice cultivation but I will continue upland rice
cultivation...
Factors influencing decisionmaking: Norms and practices


Gender division of labor
◦ Flexible but with some areas clearly...
Factors influencing decisionmaking: Attitudes/feelings


Dependency on/independence from the company
◦ To cultivate or no...
Social network mapping
Social network analysis
Social networks influence decision-making
Networks of men/rich denser than of women/poor
 Tai Maen have kin networks beyo...
Social networks (ctd.)




Linkages with community-based organizations are
perceived as somewhat strong by women but as
...
Reworking livelihoods: wellbeing
perceptions and value orientation





Wellbeing oriented towards upland rice
(materia...
Gendered changes in decisionmaking after resettlement: Costs
and benefits









Upland rice - men’s control limi...
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Gender, livelihoods & decision making

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3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food & Energy. Presentation from Session 15: Better dams for food and livelihoods.

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  • This session on Better Dams for Food and Livelihoods will draw on the research results generated by the CPWF MK1 project on optimizing reservoir management for livelihoods.
  • Values = shared assumptions about what is good, right or importantNorms = shared rules of behaving or way of doing things that we abide by subconsciouslyAttitudes = positive or negative evaluation of things, persons, events, ideas, activities
  • Tai Maen women deal mostly with Tai Maen traders (sometimes Lao), while Tai Yor women deal with Tai Maen, Tai Yor and Lao traders; Tai Maen men do business with Hmong and Tai Maen traders while Tai Yor men deal with Tai Maen and Muey traders
  • Gender, livelihoods & decision making

    1. 1. MK1: Gender, Livelihoods & Decision-making A qualitative study in a hydropower resettlement site in Lao PDR N. Weeratunge, O. Joffre, S. Senaratne Sellamuttu, B. Bouahom, A. Keophoxay Mekong Forum on Water, Food & Energy Hanoi, 21 November 2013
    2. 2. Key Messages A person’s livelihood decision-making is about choosing one option over others  These choices are shaped by his/her socio-cultural values, norms and attitudes, as much as by economic and political factors  Decision-making is often gendered as livelihood activities and tasks differ according to gender roles, norms and values  Livelihood trajectories, social network maps and perceptions of wellbeing help to uncover these values, norms and attitudes  ◦ material, relational and subjective domains  Decisions result in benefits or costs ◦ these are social (relational), cultural (relational/subjective), emotional (subjective) as well as economic (material)
    3. 3. Objectives of the study  To validate results on decision-making in the MK1 Household Livelihoods Survey in Lao PDR ◦ A relatively small number of respondents answered questions on decisionmaking and control of income in Lao upstream and headpond sites ◦ A large-scale HH survey cannot go into the complexities of decision-
    4. 4. The complexity of decision-making  Decisions relate to a range of livelihood activities, ◦ farming, fishing, provisioning, childcare within HH  Even within one livelihood activity (e.g. farming), decisions for a range of tasks can be made by different individuals within HH ◦ purchase of inputs, hiring labor, cooking for labor, land preparation, sowing, weeding, fertilizing, pest control, harvesting, processing, sale, use of income  Decision-making is both a task and a process ◦ While an ultimate decision might be made by one person, others might contribute to or influence the decision-making process  Difficult to capture and understand the implications of this complexity in a large-scale survey or economic study/modeling using limited variables
    5. 5. Conceptual approach on decisionmaking builds on:  Social wellbeing approach (McGregor 2008) ◦ What a person/HH considers a “good life” to be and what livelihood strategies s/he would pursue to achieve this “good life”  Social relations approach to gender analysis (Kabeer 1994, 1996, 2001) ◦ Focus on “agency”: “the ability to define one’s goals and act upon them”
    6. 6. Conceptual framework: Social wellbeing  a material dimension which focuses on what (resources) a person has and the extent to which the needs of the person are met  a relational or social dimension which considers the social relationships in which a person engages to pursue wellbeing ◦ E.g. relations which give access to resources and markets, or shape behaviour through institutions/social structures  a subjective or cognitive dimension which takes account of a person’s level of satisfaction/ sense of security with the quality of life he or she achieves
    7. 7. Gender analysis: Social relations approach (based on norms and practices) social relations  determine gender roles, rights, responsibilities and claims over others  institutions (market, state, community, family) key to producing and maintaining gender inequalities ◦ characterized by rules, resources, people, activities, power women’s empowerment a process of acquiring the ability to make strategic life choices by those who have been denied this ability ◦ Made up of three interlinked dimensions which shape individual choices  Resources (material, human, social enable choices; current access + future claims)  Agency “the ability to define one’s goals and act upon them”  (decision-making; also negotiation, persuasion, deception, manipulation)  Achievements (“well-being outcomes”of previous choices - related to survival, security and autonomy)
    8. 8. Key methods/tools (Ethnographic)    Focus group gender-disaggregated tool to assess a complex range of decisions and gendered norms underlying livelihood decision-making Individual livelihood trajectories to assess decision-making over time and to uncover values, norms and attitudes influencing this decision-making Individual social network maps to assess persons and organizations outside the HH influencing decision-making of HH members
    9. 9. Study context      Theun Himboun dam – upstream resettlement site in Bolikhamxay Province 181 HHs resettled from four villages Phonkeo, Sansi, Thambing, Sopchat Main ethnic groups: Tai Maen, Tai Yor Focus groups (F/M) Individual qualitative interviews centered on livelihood trajectory and social network maps ◦ 9 F/9M from all former villages; Tai Maen ,Tai Yor ethnic groups + 3 from other ethnic groups  Key informant interviews on current status of resettlement process and changes in livelihoods since survey
    10. 10. Results from livelihood trajectories
    11. 11. Women Men I got married at 17 years and moved to my husband’s house in Thambing village. Our main farming was shifting cultivation of upland rice and tree plantations. We decided on the selection of plots and types of crops together. (P., Female, Tai Maen) I cultivated upland rice on 2 plots. Both of us decided on the rice varieties together. We cultivated khao mun mixed with khao mong. We grew mixed varieties because we were following the traditional methods, which had been taught by our parents. Our total rice yield was three tons: 1 ton was kept for our own use and the other 2 tons were sold. (A., Male, Tai Maen) My husband is the one who decided on the upland rice crop and plot each year. (K., Female, Tai Maen) I concentrated on fishing and on deciding on the sale of cattle each year. (D., Male, Tai Yor) I decided to take up weaving again [when we moved] here. I have time to stay at home to take care of my children and also have time to take a rest in the afternoon. I got funding and support for the weaving from the Provincial Women’s Union. Weaving contributes to my household income and I also weave my own skirts. (M., Female, Tai Maen) My wife is the one who goes to Lak Sao to buy vegetable seeds but we both select the rice plot and rice varieties to plant in the field together. (R., Male, Tai Maen) All the decisions were taken by my husband as head of the family. He suggested raising livestock, especially poultry and pigs. I was helping my neighbors with upland rice cultivation and they paid me in cash. My husband decided that weaving was not a good option for me because it takes time to complete a skirt and we cannot be sure when it will When I heard about the village resettlement plan from the company and that they would be establishing a new resettlement village, I decided to ask them for an opportunity to work. Then they gave me a chance to work in constructing the houses. At that time, I could earn a lot of money from this job. I got 50,000 kip per day. (B., Male, Tai
    12. 12. Key results from livelihood trajectories Most livelihoods decisions are considered to be “joint”  Decisions relating to upland rice (including harvest rituals), fishing, cattle, hunting and education are more influenced/made by men  Decisions relating to riverbank gardens, vegetable gardens, NTFP collection, weaving, childcare and cooking more influenced/made by women  Ethnicity a factor in decision-making, as well as on extent of male influence  ◦ Tai Yor more focused on upland rice and fishing, Tai Maen on multiple livelihoods; Tai Maen decisionmaking is relatively “joint”, while men have more influence among Tai Yor  Farming decisions of young couples often made by parents –i.e. decision-making beyond husband-wife unit
    13. 13. Factors influencing decisionmaking: Values All Men Food/rice security (M, S) Upland rice as tradition/identity (R,S) Soil fertility (M) Fishing as income (M) Women Kinship (R) Riverbank gardens as income (M) Intergenerational care (R) Conformity (R) Tai Maen Respect (R) Opportunity-seeking (S) House (M,R,S) Innovation (S) Money (M) Tai Yor Modern services (M) Protection of Pi (Spirit) (R,S) Education (M, R, S) Tai Maen women Weaving as income and skill (M, S)
    14. 14. I would say that rubber plantation work is not hard as upland rice cultivation but I will continue upland rice cultivation in the resettlement site to make sure that I have enough rice for the household. The agricultural land here is not suitable for rubber in any case. (B., Female, Tai Maen) Upland rice is most important [for wellbeing] because it is our tradition for generations…In the past several households used to hold harvest rituals together but now our new fields are in different places so each household has to hold its own ritual. (Male Focus Group) After 20 years [in Thambing] I was invited by a relative to move to Sopchat. After discussing with the family, I decided to move there because the soil was better than in Thambing. And we also lived close to our relatives. (L., Male, Tai Yor) I got married when I was 17 years old and moved to my husband’s house. I continued with upland rice cultivation and [riverbank] vegetable gardening as before. At that time, chillie was the main crop that I could earn a lot of money from - about 10 million kip per year. (D., Female, Tai Maen) I got married when I was 20 years old and my wife asked me to move to stay with her family because there is no one to take care of her parents. Therefore, I had to follow her decision.(S., Male, Tai Maen) In 2011 I moved to the resettlement village. My family came before the company built the houses. My husband and I thought it would be a good opportunity to come early to the village because I wanted to build my own grocery shop and hoped there would be good business here. I invested in the shop on my own with my savings without anybody’s support. With the profits from the shop, I bought pigs, feed, a refrigerator and an air compressor [for vehicles]. (A., Female, Tai Maen) From my experience, education is important for life. I do not mind if my children go for higher education and get married with partners from other districts or provinces. Farming is hard and difficult. I don’t want my children to have to work like me. I will continue to encourage and support my children to get a higher level of education than I have. I don’t care if there is I am unhappy that I had to stop cultivating upland rice and cannot hold the ceremony for Pi (Spirit) after the harvest.. (N., Male, Tai Yor)
    15. 15. Factors influencing decisionmaking: Norms and practices  Gender division of labor ◦ Flexible but with some areas clearly demarcated for women such as weaving, childcare, cooking  Labor relations ◦ Husband and wife or hired labor (no exchange labor except for livestock); high work burden for women; lack of labor in some HHs  Post-marital residence ◦ Mostly patrilocal, but also ambilocal/matrilocal/bilocal  Assets/Inheritance ◦ Bilateral, dependent on parental care  Capabilities ◦ Education level – of women lower than of men; of Tai Yor lower than of Tai Maen  Ostracism ◦ When individual is associated with misfortune, no support from others in making decisions
    16. 16. Factors influencing decisionmaking: Attitudes/feelings  Dependency on/independence from the company ◦ To cultivate or not influenced by rice provided by company and no. family members, as well as soil fertility in new fields and costs to reach old upland fields ◦ Option to return to cultivating upland in former villages  Risk taking/aversion ◦ Adapt to new livelihoods – weaving, fishing, home gardens ◦ Not taking credit for livestock  Insecurity ◦ Of the future – lack of rice, food, soil fertility, income  Fear ◦ Of water - restricts fishing among individuals  Pride/Satisfaction ◦ Weaving, enough rice for the HH for the year, house, electricity, water supply, education
    17. 17. Social network mapping
    18. 18. Social network analysis
    19. 19. Social networks influence decision-making Networks of men/rich denser than of women/poor  Tai Maen have kin networks beyond village  Women’s networks comprise both F & M, while men’s networks are mostly male  Linkages with kin and friends are perceived as strong, and mostly confined to same ethnic group  Linkages with buyers are considered somewhat strong and are cross-ethnic  ◦ Mostly female for women; M+F for men  Linkages with suppliers, also cross ethnic are perceived to be weak, except by Tai Maen women ◦ Mostly female for women; M+F for men  Buyers and suppliers are from nearby town (Lak Sao) for both women and men; women also deal with buyers in the village
    20. 20. Social networks (ctd.)   Linkages with community-based organizations are perceived as somewhat strong by women but as weak by men Linkages to the company, government and temple are considered weak by majority
    21. 21. Reworking livelihoods: wellbeing perceptions and value orientation    Wellbeing oriented towards upland rice (material/subjective) by most Women: identified care by children (and support of husband) as important for wellbeing (relational) Tai Maen men: range of perceptions on wellbeing (material) Most important for a good life in the village Women Tai Maen Material: Upland rice (3) Money (1) Upland rice (1) House (1) Money (1) (Pouk) Relational Husband (1) Children (1) Tai Yor Material Upland rice (1) Vegetable garden (1) Upland rice (1) Lowland paddy field (1) Money for children’s education (1) (Tai Taen) Relational Children (1) Men Tai Maen Material Upland rice (1) Fishing (1) Water supply (1) Higher education (1) Goats and chickens (1) Relational Respect (1) (Phoutai) Tai Yor Material Upland rice (4) Lowland paddy field (2) Fishing (1) Relational
    22. 22. Gendered changes in decisionmaking after resettlement: Costs and benefits        Upland rice - men’s control limited by new land use patterns (material, relational and subjective costs) Fishing – men’s control has increased (material benefits) Riverbank gardening – women’s control has decreased (material costs) NTFP – women’s control has decreased (material costs) Weaving – women’s control has increased (material and subjective benefits) Livestock – women’s control unchanged; men’s control over cattle decreased (material costs) Education – men’s control unchanged but women have increased participation in decisions (relational and subjective benefits)
    23. 23. Thank you
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