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An assignment on
Rural women in agriculture
Course code: AG-2209
Course title: Sociology of Coastal Livelihoods.
Date of submission: 01.03.17
Department of Agriculture
Noakhali Science and Technology University
Submitted by: Submitted to:
Name: Md. Morshedul Islam
Roll: ASH1514058M
Year: 02
Term: 02
Session: 2014-2015
Md. Maruf Billah
Lecturer
Department of Agriculture
Noakhali Science and Technology
University. Noakhali
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Contents
Serial No. Name of the topics Page No.
01 Abstract 03
02 Introduction 03
03 Women in agriculture 04
04 Role of women in agriculture 04
05 Empowerment of rural women 08
06 Women in decision- making in agriculture sector 11
07 Involvement of women in decision making process
in family
12
08 Women’s participation in agricultural activities at
forest land areas of Bangladesh
13
09 Women in agricultural extension services 13
10 Women Participation in Agriculture and Changes
in Income
14
11 Conclusion 15
12 References 16
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Rural women in agriculture
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Abstract:
Agriculture is one of the main driving forces of the economy of Bangladesh. This sector plays an
important role in attaining food security as well as self-sufficiency in agricultural production,
development of the rural economy, and sustainable socioeconomic development. Of the total labor
force of the country, about 48 percent is engaged in this sector, while 70 percent of the rural
population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. The agriculture sector is the source of food
and nutrition of population, and is also the main source of employment and income generation for
the majority of rural people. Without achieving the desired growth in this sector, it would be
impossible to secure food security, eliminate unemployment, and alleviate rural poverty. It can be
an important engine of growth and poverty reduction. But the sector is underperforming in many
countries in part because women, who are often a crucial resource in agriculture and the rural
economy, face constraints that reduce their productivity. The contribution of women to agricultural
and food production is significant but it is impossible to verify empirically the share produced by
women.
Introduction:
The female contribution to the overall economy, particularly in agriculture is high throughout Asia.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam have
particularly high percentages of women employed in the agricultural sector, with estimates ranging
between 60 and 98 percent (FAO, 2003). Among the neighboring countries, only 59 per cent of
Bangladeshi women, as compared to over 74 per cent of Indian, 64 per cent Pakistani and 85 per
cent Nepali women, are employed in agriculture. Indeed, in most Asian countries the number of
women employed in agriculture as a percentage of the economically active population is higher
than that of men. However, women's contribution to agriculture, which is considered as unpaid
family labor, is grossly underestimated.
Women make essential contributions to the agricultural and rural economies in all developing
countries. Their roles vary considerably between and within regions and are changing rapidly in
many parts of the world, where economic and social forces are transforming the agricultural sector.
Rural women often manage complex households and pursue multiple livelihood strategies. Their
activities typically include producing agricultural crops, tending animals, processing and preparing
food, working for wages in agricultural.
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Women in agriculture:
Women play an indispensable role in farming and in improving the quality of life in rural areas.
However, their contributions often remain concealed due to some social barriers and gender bias.
Even government programmes often fail to focus on women in agriculture. This undermines the
potential benefits from programmes, especially those related to food production, household income
improvements, nutrition, literacy, poverty alleviation and population control. Equitable access for
rural women to educational facilities would certainly improve their performance and liberate them
from their marginalised status in the society. Other areas where women’s potential could be
effectively harnessed are agricultural extension, farming systems development, land reform and
rural welfare. Landmark improvements have been recorded in such cases as the extension of
institutional credit and domestic water supplies where women’s potential have been consciously
tapped.
Role of women in agriculture:
Women as farmers: Agricultural statistics reflect that it has 144,685 farmers utilizing 259,358
hectares of land. It also indicates that, 43,808 (30%) are women between the age of 35 – 54. The
average land space utilized by women is 1.4 hectares in comparison to an average of 2.6 hectares
of land cultivated by male farmers.
Women as agricultural labourers: There are a larger number of women who work on large farms
belonging to others as labourers, assisting with labour-intensive chores in greenhouses, doing task
work, applying fertilizers, reaping and packaging crops etc., and who have not been captured in
the collected data, mainly because they do not have access to land. In most cases, these women are
heads of households, single parents or main providers for their families.
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Women in backyard gardening: Rural women have perfected the art in backyard gardening
under the theme “Eat what you Grow, Grow what you eat” campaign. The intent was to encourage
the idea of securing food for families and friends. The campaign has catalyzed a renewed pride
among our women with a replication of the program in urban areas at the household level.
Women in agro-processing: Despite the pivotal role that women play in agriculture, the use of
food preparation skills to convert raw indigenous food to a value added meal has now been
introduced to enhance food consumption. This is supported by the ancient norm that the woman’s
place is in the kitchen.
Women’s contribution to agricultural production: Women play a significant role in the
agricultural labour force and in agricultural activities, although to a varying degree. Consequently
their contribution to agricultural output is undoubtedly extremely significant, although difficult to
quantify with any accuracy. It has often been claimed that women produce 60-80 percent of food.
However, assigning contributions to agricultural outputs by gender is problematic because in most
agricultural households both men and women are involved in crop production. It can be attempted
to allocate output by gender by assuming that specific crops are grown by women and others by
men and then aggregating the value of women’s and men’s crops to determine the share grown by
women. Researchers have occasionally used this approach, especially in West Africa, where there
are distinguishable cropping patterns by gender. Yet, a careful analysis of agriculture in Ghana
finds that while there are gendered patterns of cropping, the distinctions between men’s and
women’s crops do not hold up well enough to use them to make inferences about men’s and
women’s relative contribution to production. In addition, gendered patterns of cropping may
change over time (Doss, 2002).
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Women’s contribution to food production: In reality in most situations the question of women’s
contribution to agricultural and food production cannot be answered with any degree of accuracy.
Women do not usually produce food separately from men. Most food is produced with labour
contributions of both men and women in a collaborative process. Quantifying the share of food
produced by women involves making arbitrary assumptions about gender roles in the production
process, which are not likely to hold universally. For example, if men typically provide the labour
to clear the field and women plant and weed the crops, both men and women are involved in
harvesting. In these and other similar cases it becomes impossible to separate output by gender.
Women as livestock keepers: Within pastoralist and mixed farming systems, livestock play an
important role in supporting women and in improving their financial situation, and women are
heavily engaged in the sector. An estimated two-thirds of poor livestock keepers, totalling
approximately 400 million people, are women (Thornton et al, 2002). They share responsibility
with men and children for the care of animals, and particular species and types of activity are more
associated with women than men. For example, women often have a prominent role in managing
poultry (FAO 1998; Guèye 2000; Tung 2005) and dairy animals (Okali and Mims 1998; Tangka,
Jabbar and Shapiro, 2000) and in caring for other animals that are housed and fed within the
homestead.
When tasks are divided, men are more likely to be involved in constructing housing and herding
of grazing animals, and in marketing of products if women's mobility is constrained. The influence
of women is strong in the use of eggs, milk and poultry meat for home consumption and they often
have control over marketing and the income from these products. Perhaps for this reason poultry
Page | 7
and small scale dairy projects have been popular investments for development projects aiming to
improve the lot of rural women. In some countries small-scale pig production is also dominated
by women. Female-headed households are as successful as male-headed households in generating
income from their animals, although they tend to own smaller numbers of animals, probably
because of labour constraints. Ownership of livestock is particularly attractive to women in
societies where access to land is restricted to men (Bravo-Baumann 2000).
Women in fisheries and aquaculture: In 2008, nearly 45 million people world-wide were
directly engaged, full-time or part-time, in the fishery primary sector (FAO fishery database). In
addition, about 135 million people are estimated to be employed in the secondary sector, including
post-harvest activities. While comprehensive data are not available on a sex-disaggregated basis,
case studies suggest that women may comprise up to 30 percent of the total employment in
fisheries, including primary and secondary activities.
Information provided to FAO from 86 countries indicates that in 2008, 5.4 million women worked
as fishers and fish farmers in the primary sector.9This represents 12 percent of the total. In two
major producing countries, China and India, women represented a share of 21 percent and 24
percent, respectively, of all fishers and fish farmers. Women have rarely engaged in commercial
offshore and long distance capture fisheries because of the vigorous work involved but also
because of women’s domestic responsibilities and/or social norms.
Women are more commonly occupied in subsistence and commercial fishing from small boats and
canoes in coastal or inland waters. Women also contribute as entrepreneurs and provide labour
before, during and after the catch in both artisanal and commercial fisheries. For example, in West
Africa, the so called “Fish Mamas” play a major role. They usually own capital and are directly
and vigorously involved in the coordination of the fisheries chain, from production to sale of fish.
Page | 8
Women in marketing: For some rural women, they prefer selling their own goods in the
municipal markets or to vendors who would purchase in large quantities for resale purposes. These
goods are produced by clusters of women, or sometimes their spouses. In order to acquire the
quality and quantity goods they desire, they would visit other farms and purchase and then travel
long distances from the rural areas of origin to municipal markets in the cities where they would
spend 1-3 days before returning home. There is also a small fraction of women who are involved
in international export. They focus on packaging raw and processed goods which are sold overseas
to investors. They experience several challenges with unfavorable trade barriers. There is evidence
of discrimination in different stages of the process.
Empowerment of rural women:
The empowerment of women is an essential precondition for the elimination of world poverty and
the upholding of human rights (DFID, 2000: 8), in particular at the individual level, it helps
building a base for social change. In Bangladesh, women constitute about half of the total
population of which 80 percent live in rural areas (BBS, 2001: 21). But their status has been ranked
the lowest in the world on the basis of twenty indicators related to health, marriage, children,
education, employment and social equality (NCBP, 2000: 27). It is a well established fact that in
a patriarchal society like Bangladesh, women are ascribed a lower status as men who have the
sovereign power to control households and society as a whole, while women are often secluded in
their homes (Balk, 1997: 4).
The World Bank study in Bangladesh highlights that women have limited role in household
decision-making, limited access and control over household resources (physical and financial
assets), low level of individual assets, heavy domestic workloads, restricted mobility and
inadequate knowledge and skills that leading to women’s vulnerability (Sebstad and Cohen 2002:
Page | 9
44). Taking this gloomy picture of women’s situation into account, this study was undertaken to
address the following two objectives: 1) to analyse and determine the nature and extent of rural
women’s empowerment and factors influencing it; and 2) to develop a comprehensive strategic
framework for improving rural women’s empowerment level.
Conceptual Issues:
There are three important dimensions of women’s empowerment (following Malhotra et al., 2002:
13). These dimensions are dynamic, interlinked and mutually reinforcing at household level and
recognize the fact that the level of gender equality and development are directly proportional.
These dimensions are as follows:
• Socio-economic dimension: It includes economic contribution (both from farm and non-
farm) to household welfare, access to socio-economic resources and ownership of
productive and non-productive assets. This will increase women’s earning capacity,
bargaining power, control over resources, role in household economic decision-making,
meeting the basic needs and altogether improving self-reliance, thereby reducing women’s
economic subordination.
• Familial dimension: It includes participation in household decisions covering six major
dimensions. The increased role in household decision-making would enable them to
improve their self-determination, bargaining power, control over resources, self-esteem,
autonomy, status and power relations within households. That means the increased role of
women in household decision-making will lead to their own well-being and that of their
children.
• Psychological dimension: It includes perception on gender awareness with regard to basic
rights of women and coping capacity to different household shocks. It will enhance self-
confidence, bargaining power, freedom of choices and coping abilities within the
households.
It is hypothesized that various kinds of inputs (e.g. education and skill training) provided by
different intervening agencies will encourage women's participation in the development
programmes. Subsequently, this process will lead to gender equality through enhanced self-
confidence, resources, coping abilities, freedom of choices and power relations. It is assumed that
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gender equality contributes substantially to the well-being of women and reduces women’s
vulnerability and poverty.
Empowerment Indicators:
Six indicators of women’s empowerment covering a wide range of attributes were
comprehensively measured. These are as presented below:
a) Contribution to household income refers to the wife’s contribution in terms of per cent
involvement in subsistence productive activities that are not rewarded in cash or kind to household
income. Fourteen activities were selected in this regard, which are as follows: 1) farm activities -
land and seedbed preparation, sowing-planting-transplanting, intercultural activities, harvesting
and threshing, winnowing-parboiling-drying-storage, drying and preservation of straws,
homestead cultivation, livestock rearing, poultry rearing, fish culture and marketing related to
agricultural production; and 2) non-farm activities - service, business and handicraft production.
b) Access to resources refers to the right, scope, power or permission to use and/or get benefits
from ten selected resources that were divided into mainly two types. These are: 1) household
resources - equal consumption of nutritious food, handling and spending money, selling of minor
agricultural products, interpersonal communication, hiring of helping hands and utilisation of
credit money if they receive; and 2) social resources - education/training, credit, rural cooperative
and bank. It was computed using a four-point scale - 0 for ‘no access’, 1 for ‘low access’, 2 for
‘medium access’ and 3 for ‘high access’.
c) Ownership of assets refers to the ability of a woman to control her own current assets and enjoy
benefits accruing from them. Two categories of assets comprising nine items were selected for the
study. They include: 1) productive - land, cattle, goat, poultry and cash savings; and 2) non-
productive - jewellery, television, radio and small vehicle. It was measured in terms of money
(‘000’Taka - Bangladeshi currency) considering the current value of each item that a woman
possesses.
d) Participation in household decision-making refers to the extent of women’s ability to
participate in formulating and executing decisions regarding domestic, financial, child-welfare,
reproductive health, farming and socio-political matters in coordination with other family
members. Twenty items in six major dimensions was analysed and a four-point scale was used to
Page | 11
measure women’s PHDM - 0 for ‘no participation’, 1 for ‘low participation’, 2 for ‘medium
participation’ and 3 for ‘high participation.
e) Perception on gender awareness refers to a woman’s ability to express her opinion with regard
to existing gender inequality and discrimination against women in the society. Fifteen crucial
gender issues were selected that include: under-value, education, economic opportunity,
inheritance property rights, reproductive choice, early marriage, dowry, divorce rights, son
preference, attitude towards female child, birth registration, feeding priority, wage differentiation,
political awareness and violence against women.
f) Coping capacity to household shocks refers to a woman’s ability to face sudden risks, crises
and periodic stresses (threats to life or happiness) in the household. Nine major risk aspects related
to household management including natural calamities, financial constraints due to crop failure,
indebtedness, food unavailability, chronic illnesses, conflict, husbands’ torture and unexpected
death of children as well as husbands were analysed. A four-point rating scale (1 - 4) was used to
measure the coping capacity where 1 indicates ‘the best strategy’ and 4 ‘the least suitable strategy’.
Women in decision- making in agriculture sector:
The role of women has always been a multi-dimensional and significant as women have performed
well in case of agricultural activities, domestic activities, marketing activities as far as labour
requirement is considered. The decision-making process is an important segment of every
household because the functioning of family resource management depends on the efficiency of
decision-making progress. So, women’s involvement in decision-making process has been of great
importance because women play an important role in every household activity and gives excellent
performance most of the time. It may be related to household activity or for the decision-making
at household or any other level. In rural society, there has been noticed a considerable fluctuation
regarding the decision-making power of women. The state like Punjab and Haryana show positive
role of women in decision-making process in many of the families. But it has become insignificant
and negligible in rural families due to illiteracy of women. The contribution of rural women has
not taken seriously because it is considered very disgraceful to accept the decision of women. This
is because the abilities of women have been neglected and undermined as the responsibility of
forming the policies is always regarded the job of male traditionally. Haw far, the role of women
in decision-making process has been noticed in positive manner is the major concern of our study.
Page | 12
To know the actual situation of women, their role in decision-making in different agricultural
activities need to be properly looked into. So, women’s involvement in decision-making process
related to agricultural activities have assessed by taking-up following objectives:
1) To assess the contribution of women in the decision-making related to different expenditure
activities of agriculture sector.
2) To observe the role of women in decision-making process of buying activities of agriculture
sector.
3) To measure the extent of decision-making power of women related to opting measures to
increase production.
4) To examine the role of women in decision-making in respect of livestock management and
storage activities.
Involvement of women in decision making process in family:
In a world where the role of women in decision-making is seldom adequately appreciated, they
make a remarkable contribution due to their hard work and sense of confidence. It is observed that
women are mostly involved in repetitive and monotonous household work irrespective of the fact
that they share most of family responsibilities and perform a wide range of duties in and outside
home. On the other hand men perform activities, which require skills, but there is sufficient
evidence, which show a clear, although slow shift of stereotype sex roles. In early societies,
decision-making was predominantly done by menfolk being the breadwinner of the family. With
modernization and education women have been empowered to make the best use of human and
non-human resources in management of the family with respect to efficient use of time and energy.
Participation in household decision making: Expressions of expectations about household
matters reveal the other ideas that embody the cultural values. It increases the capacity of one's
strength of arguments. The cultural values and norms do not permit the younger people to
participate in household matters owing to their physical and mental immaturity. It was found that
about one-third of the women participated in decision-making process in household matters.
Acceptance of decision: Although about one-third of the women participated in household
matters, the acceptance of their opinions was minimal; only 7.0% of their opinions were accepted,
Page | 13
less than two-thirds of their decisions were occasionally accepted, and in 30.7% cases the decisions
were very rarely accepted.
Reasons for not participating in the decision:
Making process regarding the reasons for not participating in the decision-making process, more
than four-fifths opined that the seniors or guardians did not find the need to take opinions from the
women. Of all, 9.2% of the women did not feel liberal enough to share their opinions regarding
the household matters, and 5.0% mentioned that they were considered immature to give opinions
in such matter.
Women’s participation in agricultural activities at forest land areas of
Bangladesh:
Women first initiated agricultural practices and demonstrated the art of science of farming. Women
played a key role in the conservation of basic support system. The main objective of this research
was to determine the extent of participation in agricultural activities by the rural women in
Madhupur forest areas. An attempt was made to explore the potentials factors that influence their
participation in agricultural activities in Madhupur forest areas in Bangladesh. Data were collected
from randomly selected 70 rural women by using a pre-tested structured interview schedule. The
findings of the study showed that the highest proportion of the respondents (95.7%) had high level
of participation in agricultural activities, where only 4.3% had medium and 1.4% had low level of
participation. Among nine selected characteristics of the rural women, two of these namely years
of schooling and family farm size did not show positive significant relationships with their extent
of participation in agricultural activities. On the other hand, extension media contact and access to
training on agriculture showed positive significant relationship with their extent of participation in
agricultural activities. The findings of the study indicate that the respondents of the study area have
no alternatives other than agricultural activities.
Women in agricultural extension services:
Agricultural Extension Service aims to educate the people of farming community in order to
improve their quality of life through dissemination of knowledge, technologies, techniques,
methods, ideas and useful information through extension system. It assists farm people, through
Page | 14
educational process, in improving farm. Production methods and techniques, increasing
production efficiency and income, improving their levels of living and lifting the social and
educational standard of rural life. Agricultural extension services, which encompass public and
private sectors, NGOs, research and academic institutions and also the farmers, are the main forces
in the processes of technology transfer.
Men and women have been growing crops and raising livestock for approximately 10,000 years.
Throughout this period, farmers have continually adapted their technology, assessed the results,
and shared what they have learned with other members of the community. Most of this
communication has taken the form of verbal explanations and practical demonstrations, but some
information tool a more durable form as soon as systems of writing were developed. Details of
agricultural practices have been found in records from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and China
going back more than 3,000 years.
Objectives:
 to state the origin of agricultural extension
 to describe the four generations of agricultural extension in Asia
 to describe the four paradigms of agricultural extension in Bangladesh
 to describe the agricultural extension system in Bangladesh
 to describe the agricultural research system in extension service in Bangladesh
 to describe the agricultural education in extension service in Bangladesh
 to find out the problems of agricultural extension services in Bangladesh
Women Participation in Agriculture and Changes in Income:
In order to assess the impact of women participation in agriculture on changes in income, the
selected households were at first categorized into three groups depending on allocation of their
time in agriculture in either or in both the years of 2000 and 2008. The three groups were:
 Those who were not involved in agricultural activities (zero hours per day)
 Those who were not substantially involved in agricultural activities (less than 4 hours per
day)
 Those who were substantially involved in agricultural activities (more than 4 hours per
day)
Page | 15
Distribution of households according to time allocation in agriculture by the female family
members
Extent of female participation
Number of
households
Percentage of
households
Not substantially involved in agriculture (<4 hours per day) 1223 76.6
Substantially involved in agriculture (>4 hours per day) 212 13.3
Not involved in agricultural (0 hour per day) 164 10.3
All 1599 100.0
It was found that there was no participation of women in agriculture for 10.3% households while
13.3% had substantial participation (> 4 hours per day per worker). These two groups (no
participation and substantial participation) were compared in relation to income changes between
the periods of 2000 and 2008.
Conclusion:
Allocation of time for both economic and domestic activities for women gradually decreased since
end of eighties implying that women have now more leisure time than before. On the other hand,
less involvement of male members with increased production than in the past indicates increased
labor productivity in agriculture in recent years. Adoption of more mechanized cultivation in future
and moving to remunerative non-farm jobs by male farmers indicate labor crisis for agricultural
operations in the rural areas will aggravate which will demand participation of more women in
agriculture. In the face of male labor crisis, increased women involvement in crop production
activities is mostly related to managerial activities now. Most of the technologies developed for
agriculture are related to pre harvest crop production activities in which male farmers are mostly
involved. Women friendly pre harvest as well as post- harvest technologies for crop production
and processing technologies need to be developed for effective participation of women in
agriculture. This needs attention from both the researchers and planners. Women participation in
agriculture has increased in recent years; however, their participation in crop production activities
Page | 16
has drastically reduced in recent years. On the other hand, participation of women in livestock and
poultry production activities as well as in homestead gardening has gradually increased to a
considerable extent. As women in Bangladesh find more comfortable engaging in agricultural
activities within the boundary of household rather than in the field for crop production activities,
home-based agricultural activities like livestock and poultry production as well as homestead
gardening should be encouraged through providing more credit and training facilities to women.
References:
 Ahsan, Rosie Majid, Hussain, S.R. and Wallace, Ben J. (1986): Role of Women in
Agriculture, University of Dhaka, Dhaka: The Centre for Urban Studies.
 Chowdhury, Nuimuddin. (1986): Revaluation of Women’s Work in Bangladesh. The
Bangladesh Journal of Agricultural Economics.
 Daman Prakash: Rural women, food security and agricultural cooperatives.
 K. Chayal, B. L. Dhaka, M. K. Poonia, S. V. S. Tyagi and S. R. Verma : Involvement of
Farm Women in Decision- making In Agriculture.
 Mohammed Nasir Uddin, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Extension
Education, Bangladesh Agricultural University: Agricultural Extension Services In
Bangladesh.
 Rajwana Munmun, Md. Asaduzzaman Sarker, Mohammad Jiaul Hoque and Khondokar
Humayun Kabir, Department of Agricultural Extension Education, Bangladesh
Agricultural University, Mymensingh-2202, Bangladesh: Women’s Participation in
Agricultural Activities at Forest Land Areas of Bangladesh.
 W. M. H. Jaim and Mahabub Hossain: Women’s Participation in Agriculture in Bangladesh
1988-2008
Page | 17

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Rural women in agriculture(Morshed)

  • 1. Page | 0 An assignment on Rural women in agriculture Course code: AG-2209 Course title: Sociology of Coastal Livelihoods. Date of submission: 01.03.17 Department of Agriculture Noakhali Science and Technology University Submitted by: Submitted to: Name: Md. Morshedul Islam Roll: ASH1514058M Year: 02 Term: 02 Session: 2014-2015 Md. Maruf Billah Lecturer Department of Agriculture Noakhali Science and Technology University. Noakhali
  • 2. Page | 1 Contents Serial No. Name of the topics Page No. 01 Abstract 03 02 Introduction 03 03 Women in agriculture 04 04 Role of women in agriculture 04 05 Empowerment of rural women 08 06 Women in decision- making in agriculture sector 11 07 Involvement of women in decision making process in family 12 08 Women’s participation in agricultural activities at forest land areas of Bangladesh 13 09 Women in agricultural extension services 13 10 Women Participation in Agriculture and Changes in Income 14 11 Conclusion 15 12 References 16
  • 3. Page | 2 Rural women in agriculture
  • 4. Page | 3 Abstract: Agriculture is one of the main driving forces of the economy of Bangladesh. This sector plays an important role in attaining food security as well as self-sufficiency in agricultural production, development of the rural economy, and sustainable socioeconomic development. Of the total labor force of the country, about 48 percent is engaged in this sector, while 70 percent of the rural population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. The agriculture sector is the source of food and nutrition of population, and is also the main source of employment and income generation for the majority of rural people. Without achieving the desired growth in this sector, it would be impossible to secure food security, eliminate unemployment, and alleviate rural poverty. It can be an important engine of growth and poverty reduction. But the sector is underperforming in many countries in part because women, who are often a crucial resource in agriculture and the rural economy, face constraints that reduce their productivity. The contribution of women to agricultural and food production is significant but it is impossible to verify empirically the share produced by women. Introduction: The female contribution to the overall economy, particularly in agriculture is high throughout Asia. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam have particularly high percentages of women employed in the agricultural sector, with estimates ranging between 60 and 98 percent (FAO, 2003). Among the neighboring countries, only 59 per cent of Bangladeshi women, as compared to over 74 per cent of Indian, 64 per cent Pakistani and 85 per cent Nepali women, are employed in agriculture. Indeed, in most Asian countries the number of women employed in agriculture as a percentage of the economically active population is higher than that of men. However, women's contribution to agriculture, which is considered as unpaid family labor, is grossly underestimated. Women make essential contributions to the agricultural and rural economies in all developing countries. Their roles vary considerably between and within regions and are changing rapidly in many parts of the world, where economic and social forces are transforming the agricultural sector. Rural women often manage complex households and pursue multiple livelihood strategies. Their activities typically include producing agricultural crops, tending animals, processing and preparing food, working for wages in agricultural.
  • 5. Page | 4 Women in agriculture: Women play an indispensable role in farming and in improving the quality of life in rural areas. However, their contributions often remain concealed due to some social barriers and gender bias. Even government programmes often fail to focus on women in agriculture. This undermines the potential benefits from programmes, especially those related to food production, household income improvements, nutrition, literacy, poverty alleviation and population control. Equitable access for rural women to educational facilities would certainly improve their performance and liberate them from their marginalised status in the society. Other areas where women’s potential could be effectively harnessed are agricultural extension, farming systems development, land reform and rural welfare. Landmark improvements have been recorded in such cases as the extension of institutional credit and domestic water supplies where women’s potential have been consciously tapped. Role of women in agriculture: Women as farmers: Agricultural statistics reflect that it has 144,685 farmers utilizing 259,358 hectares of land. It also indicates that, 43,808 (30%) are women between the age of 35 – 54. The average land space utilized by women is 1.4 hectares in comparison to an average of 2.6 hectares of land cultivated by male farmers. Women as agricultural labourers: There are a larger number of women who work on large farms belonging to others as labourers, assisting with labour-intensive chores in greenhouses, doing task work, applying fertilizers, reaping and packaging crops etc., and who have not been captured in the collected data, mainly because they do not have access to land. In most cases, these women are heads of households, single parents or main providers for their families.
  • 6. Page | 5 Women in backyard gardening: Rural women have perfected the art in backyard gardening under the theme “Eat what you Grow, Grow what you eat” campaign. The intent was to encourage the idea of securing food for families and friends. The campaign has catalyzed a renewed pride among our women with a replication of the program in urban areas at the household level. Women in agro-processing: Despite the pivotal role that women play in agriculture, the use of food preparation skills to convert raw indigenous food to a value added meal has now been introduced to enhance food consumption. This is supported by the ancient norm that the woman’s place is in the kitchen. Women’s contribution to agricultural production: Women play a significant role in the agricultural labour force and in agricultural activities, although to a varying degree. Consequently their contribution to agricultural output is undoubtedly extremely significant, although difficult to quantify with any accuracy. It has often been claimed that women produce 60-80 percent of food. However, assigning contributions to agricultural outputs by gender is problematic because in most agricultural households both men and women are involved in crop production. It can be attempted to allocate output by gender by assuming that specific crops are grown by women and others by men and then aggregating the value of women’s and men’s crops to determine the share grown by women. Researchers have occasionally used this approach, especially in West Africa, where there are distinguishable cropping patterns by gender. Yet, a careful analysis of agriculture in Ghana finds that while there are gendered patterns of cropping, the distinctions between men’s and women’s crops do not hold up well enough to use them to make inferences about men’s and women’s relative contribution to production. In addition, gendered patterns of cropping may change over time (Doss, 2002).
  • 7. Page | 6 Women’s contribution to food production: In reality in most situations the question of women’s contribution to agricultural and food production cannot be answered with any degree of accuracy. Women do not usually produce food separately from men. Most food is produced with labour contributions of both men and women in a collaborative process. Quantifying the share of food produced by women involves making arbitrary assumptions about gender roles in the production process, which are not likely to hold universally. For example, if men typically provide the labour to clear the field and women plant and weed the crops, both men and women are involved in harvesting. In these and other similar cases it becomes impossible to separate output by gender. Women as livestock keepers: Within pastoralist and mixed farming systems, livestock play an important role in supporting women and in improving their financial situation, and women are heavily engaged in the sector. An estimated two-thirds of poor livestock keepers, totalling approximately 400 million people, are women (Thornton et al, 2002). They share responsibility with men and children for the care of animals, and particular species and types of activity are more associated with women than men. For example, women often have a prominent role in managing poultry (FAO 1998; Guèye 2000; Tung 2005) and dairy animals (Okali and Mims 1998; Tangka, Jabbar and Shapiro, 2000) and in caring for other animals that are housed and fed within the homestead. When tasks are divided, men are more likely to be involved in constructing housing and herding of grazing animals, and in marketing of products if women's mobility is constrained. The influence of women is strong in the use of eggs, milk and poultry meat for home consumption and they often have control over marketing and the income from these products. Perhaps for this reason poultry
  • 8. Page | 7 and small scale dairy projects have been popular investments for development projects aiming to improve the lot of rural women. In some countries small-scale pig production is also dominated by women. Female-headed households are as successful as male-headed households in generating income from their animals, although they tend to own smaller numbers of animals, probably because of labour constraints. Ownership of livestock is particularly attractive to women in societies where access to land is restricted to men (Bravo-Baumann 2000). Women in fisheries and aquaculture: In 2008, nearly 45 million people world-wide were directly engaged, full-time or part-time, in the fishery primary sector (FAO fishery database). In addition, about 135 million people are estimated to be employed in the secondary sector, including post-harvest activities. While comprehensive data are not available on a sex-disaggregated basis, case studies suggest that women may comprise up to 30 percent of the total employment in fisheries, including primary and secondary activities. Information provided to FAO from 86 countries indicates that in 2008, 5.4 million women worked as fishers and fish farmers in the primary sector.9This represents 12 percent of the total. In two major producing countries, China and India, women represented a share of 21 percent and 24 percent, respectively, of all fishers and fish farmers. Women have rarely engaged in commercial offshore and long distance capture fisheries because of the vigorous work involved but also because of women’s domestic responsibilities and/or social norms. Women are more commonly occupied in subsistence and commercial fishing from small boats and canoes in coastal or inland waters. Women also contribute as entrepreneurs and provide labour before, during and after the catch in both artisanal and commercial fisheries. For example, in West Africa, the so called “Fish Mamas” play a major role. They usually own capital and are directly and vigorously involved in the coordination of the fisheries chain, from production to sale of fish.
  • 9. Page | 8 Women in marketing: For some rural women, they prefer selling their own goods in the municipal markets or to vendors who would purchase in large quantities for resale purposes. These goods are produced by clusters of women, or sometimes their spouses. In order to acquire the quality and quantity goods they desire, they would visit other farms and purchase and then travel long distances from the rural areas of origin to municipal markets in the cities where they would spend 1-3 days before returning home. There is also a small fraction of women who are involved in international export. They focus on packaging raw and processed goods which are sold overseas to investors. They experience several challenges with unfavorable trade barriers. There is evidence of discrimination in different stages of the process. Empowerment of rural women: The empowerment of women is an essential precondition for the elimination of world poverty and the upholding of human rights (DFID, 2000: 8), in particular at the individual level, it helps building a base for social change. In Bangladesh, women constitute about half of the total population of which 80 percent live in rural areas (BBS, 2001: 21). But their status has been ranked the lowest in the world on the basis of twenty indicators related to health, marriage, children, education, employment and social equality (NCBP, 2000: 27). It is a well established fact that in a patriarchal society like Bangladesh, women are ascribed a lower status as men who have the sovereign power to control households and society as a whole, while women are often secluded in their homes (Balk, 1997: 4). The World Bank study in Bangladesh highlights that women have limited role in household decision-making, limited access and control over household resources (physical and financial assets), low level of individual assets, heavy domestic workloads, restricted mobility and inadequate knowledge and skills that leading to women’s vulnerability (Sebstad and Cohen 2002:
  • 10. Page | 9 44). Taking this gloomy picture of women’s situation into account, this study was undertaken to address the following two objectives: 1) to analyse and determine the nature and extent of rural women’s empowerment and factors influencing it; and 2) to develop a comprehensive strategic framework for improving rural women’s empowerment level. Conceptual Issues: There are three important dimensions of women’s empowerment (following Malhotra et al., 2002: 13). These dimensions are dynamic, interlinked and mutually reinforcing at household level and recognize the fact that the level of gender equality and development are directly proportional. These dimensions are as follows: • Socio-economic dimension: It includes economic contribution (both from farm and non- farm) to household welfare, access to socio-economic resources and ownership of productive and non-productive assets. This will increase women’s earning capacity, bargaining power, control over resources, role in household economic decision-making, meeting the basic needs and altogether improving self-reliance, thereby reducing women’s economic subordination. • Familial dimension: It includes participation in household decisions covering six major dimensions. The increased role in household decision-making would enable them to improve their self-determination, bargaining power, control over resources, self-esteem, autonomy, status and power relations within households. That means the increased role of women in household decision-making will lead to their own well-being and that of their children. • Psychological dimension: It includes perception on gender awareness with regard to basic rights of women and coping capacity to different household shocks. It will enhance self- confidence, bargaining power, freedom of choices and coping abilities within the households. It is hypothesized that various kinds of inputs (e.g. education and skill training) provided by different intervening agencies will encourage women's participation in the development programmes. Subsequently, this process will lead to gender equality through enhanced self- confidence, resources, coping abilities, freedom of choices and power relations. It is assumed that
  • 11. Page | 10 gender equality contributes substantially to the well-being of women and reduces women’s vulnerability and poverty. Empowerment Indicators: Six indicators of women’s empowerment covering a wide range of attributes were comprehensively measured. These are as presented below: a) Contribution to household income refers to the wife’s contribution in terms of per cent involvement in subsistence productive activities that are not rewarded in cash or kind to household income. Fourteen activities were selected in this regard, which are as follows: 1) farm activities - land and seedbed preparation, sowing-planting-transplanting, intercultural activities, harvesting and threshing, winnowing-parboiling-drying-storage, drying and preservation of straws, homestead cultivation, livestock rearing, poultry rearing, fish culture and marketing related to agricultural production; and 2) non-farm activities - service, business and handicraft production. b) Access to resources refers to the right, scope, power or permission to use and/or get benefits from ten selected resources that were divided into mainly two types. These are: 1) household resources - equal consumption of nutritious food, handling and spending money, selling of minor agricultural products, interpersonal communication, hiring of helping hands and utilisation of credit money if they receive; and 2) social resources - education/training, credit, rural cooperative and bank. It was computed using a four-point scale - 0 for ‘no access’, 1 for ‘low access’, 2 for ‘medium access’ and 3 for ‘high access’. c) Ownership of assets refers to the ability of a woman to control her own current assets and enjoy benefits accruing from them. Two categories of assets comprising nine items were selected for the study. They include: 1) productive - land, cattle, goat, poultry and cash savings; and 2) non- productive - jewellery, television, radio and small vehicle. It was measured in terms of money (‘000’Taka - Bangladeshi currency) considering the current value of each item that a woman possesses. d) Participation in household decision-making refers to the extent of women’s ability to participate in formulating and executing decisions regarding domestic, financial, child-welfare, reproductive health, farming and socio-political matters in coordination with other family members. Twenty items in six major dimensions was analysed and a four-point scale was used to
  • 12. Page | 11 measure women’s PHDM - 0 for ‘no participation’, 1 for ‘low participation’, 2 for ‘medium participation’ and 3 for ‘high participation. e) Perception on gender awareness refers to a woman’s ability to express her opinion with regard to existing gender inequality and discrimination against women in the society. Fifteen crucial gender issues were selected that include: under-value, education, economic opportunity, inheritance property rights, reproductive choice, early marriage, dowry, divorce rights, son preference, attitude towards female child, birth registration, feeding priority, wage differentiation, political awareness and violence against women. f) Coping capacity to household shocks refers to a woman’s ability to face sudden risks, crises and periodic stresses (threats to life or happiness) in the household. Nine major risk aspects related to household management including natural calamities, financial constraints due to crop failure, indebtedness, food unavailability, chronic illnesses, conflict, husbands’ torture and unexpected death of children as well as husbands were analysed. A four-point rating scale (1 - 4) was used to measure the coping capacity where 1 indicates ‘the best strategy’ and 4 ‘the least suitable strategy’. Women in decision- making in agriculture sector: The role of women has always been a multi-dimensional and significant as women have performed well in case of agricultural activities, domestic activities, marketing activities as far as labour requirement is considered. The decision-making process is an important segment of every household because the functioning of family resource management depends on the efficiency of decision-making progress. So, women’s involvement in decision-making process has been of great importance because women play an important role in every household activity and gives excellent performance most of the time. It may be related to household activity or for the decision-making at household or any other level. In rural society, there has been noticed a considerable fluctuation regarding the decision-making power of women. The state like Punjab and Haryana show positive role of women in decision-making process in many of the families. But it has become insignificant and negligible in rural families due to illiteracy of women. The contribution of rural women has not taken seriously because it is considered very disgraceful to accept the decision of women. This is because the abilities of women have been neglected and undermined as the responsibility of forming the policies is always regarded the job of male traditionally. Haw far, the role of women in decision-making process has been noticed in positive manner is the major concern of our study.
  • 13. Page | 12 To know the actual situation of women, their role in decision-making in different agricultural activities need to be properly looked into. So, women’s involvement in decision-making process related to agricultural activities have assessed by taking-up following objectives: 1) To assess the contribution of women in the decision-making related to different expenditure activities of agriculture sector. 2) To observe the role of women in decision-making process of buying activities of agriculture sector. 3) To measure the extent of decision-making power of women related to opting measures to increase production. 4) To examine the role of women in decision-making in respect of livestock management and storage activities. Involvement of women in decision making process in family: In a world where the role of women in decision-making is seldom adequately appreciated, they make a remarkable contribution due to their hard work and sense of confidence. It is observed that women are mostly involved in repetitive and monotonous household work irrespective of the fact that they share most of family responsibilities and perform a wide range of duties in and outside home. On the other hand men perform activities, which require skills, but there is sufficient evidence, which show a clear, although slow shift of stereotype sex roles. In early societies, decision-making was predominantly done by menfolk being the breadwinner of the family. With modernization and education women have been empowered to make the best use of human and non-human resources in management of the family with respect to efficient use of time and energy. Participation in household decision making: Expressions of expectations about household matters reveal the other ideas that embody the cultural values. It increases the capacity of one's strength of arguments. The cultural values and norms do not permit the younger people to participate in household matters owing to their physical and mental immaturity. It was found that about one-third of the women participated in decision-making process in household matters. Acceptance of decision: Although about one-third of the women participated in household matters, the acceptance of their opinions was minimal; only 7.0% of their opinions were accepted,
  • 14. Page | 13 less than two-thirds of their decisions were occasionally accepted, and in 30.7% cases the decisions were very rarely accepted. Reasons for not participating in the decision: Making process regarding the reasons for not participating in the decision-making process, more than four-fifths opined that the seniors or guardians did not find the need to take opinions from the women. Of all, 9.2% of the women did not feel liberal enough to share their opinions regarding the household matters, and 5.0% mentioned that they were considered immature to give opinions in such matter. Women’s participation in agricultural activities at forest land areas of Bangladesh: Women first initiated agricultural practices and demonstrated the art of science of farming. Women played a key role in the conservation of basic support system. The main objective of this research was to determine the extent of participation in agricultural activities by the rural women in Madhupur forest areas. An attempt was made to explore the potentials factors that influence their participation in agricultural activities in Madhupur forest areas in Bangladesh. Data were collected from randomly selected 70 rural women by using a pre-tested structured interview schedule. The findings of the study showed that the highest proportion of the respondents (95.7%) had high level of participation in agricultural activities, where only 4.3% had medium and 1.4% had low level of participation. Among nine selected characteristics of the rural women, two of these namely years of schooling and family farm size did not show positive significant relationships with their extent of participation in agricultural activities. On the other hand, extension media contact and access to training on agriculture showed positive significant relationship with their extent of participation in agricultural activities. The findings of the study indicate that the respondents of the study area have no alternatives other than agricultural activities. Women in agricultural extension services: Agricultural Extension Service aims to educate the people of farming community in order to improve their quality of life through dissemination of knowledge, technologies, techniques, methods, ideas and useful information through extension system. It assists farm people, through
  • 15. Page | 14 educational process, in improving farm. Production methods and techniques, increasing production efficiency and income, improving their levels of living and lifting the social and educational standard of rural life. Agricultural extension services, which encompass public and private sectors, NGOs, research and academic institutions and also the farmers, are the main forces in the processes of technology transfer. Men and women have been growing crops and raising livestock for approximately 10,000 years. Throughout this period, farmers have continually adapted their technology, assessed the results, and shared what they have learned with other members of the community. Most of this communication has taken the form of verbal explanations and practical demonstrations, but some information tool a more durable form as soon as systems of writing were developed. Details of agricultural practices have been found in records from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and China going back more than 3,000 years. Objectives:  to state the origin of agricultural extension  to describe the four generations of agricultural extension in Asia  to describe the four paradigms of agricultural extension in Bangladesh  to describe the agricultural extension system in Bangladesh  to describe the agricultural research system in extension service in Bangladesh  to describe the agricultural education in extension service in Bangladesh  to find out the problems of agricultural extension services in Bangladesh Women Participation in Agriculture and Changes in Income: In order to assess the impact of women participation in agriculture on changes in income, the selected households were at first categorized into three groups depending on allocation of their time in agriculture in either or in both the years of 2000 and 2008. The three groups were:  Those who were not involved in agricultural activities (zero hours per day)  Those who were not substantially involved in agricultural activities (less than 4 hours per day)  Those who were substantially involved in agricultural activities (more than 4 hours per day)
  • 16. Page | 15 Distribution of households according to time allocation in agriculture by the female family members Extent of female participation Number of households Percentage of households Not substantially involved in agriculture (<4 hours per day) 1223 76.6 Substantially involved in agriculture (>4 hours per day) 212 13.3 Not involved in agricultural (0 hour per day) 164 10.3 All 1599 100.0 It was found that there was no participation of women in agriculture for 10.3% households while 13.3% had substantial participation (> 4 hours per day per worker). These two groups (no participation and substantial participation) were compared in relation to income changes between the periods of 2000 and 2008. Conclusion: Allocation of time for both economic and domestic activities for women gradually decreased since end of eighties implying that women have now more leisure time than before. On the other hand, less involvement of male members with increased production than in the past indicates increased labor productivity in agriculture in recent years. Adoption of more mechanized cultivation in future and moving to remunerative non-farm jobs by male farmers indicate labor crisis for agricultural operations in the rural areas will aggravate which will demand participation of more women in agriculture. In the face of male labor crisis, increased women involvement in crop production activities is mostly related to managerial activities now. Most of the technologies developed for agriculture are related to pre harvest crop production activities in which male farmers are mostly involved. Women friendly pre harvest as well as post- harvest technologies for crop production and processing technologies need to be developed for effective participation of women in agriculture. This needs attention from both the researchers and planners. Women participation in agriculture has increased in recent years; however, their participation in crop production activities
  • 17. Page | 16 has drastically reduced in recent years. On the other hand, participation of women in livestock and poultry production activities as well as in homestead gardening has gradually increased to a considerable extent. As women in Bangladesh find more comfortable engaging in agricultural activities within the boundary of household rather than in the field for crop production activities, home-based agricultural activities like livestock and poultry production as well as homestead gardening should be encouraged through providing more credit and training facilities to women. References:  Ahsan, Rosie Majid, Hussain, S.R. and Wallace, Ben J. (1986): Role of Women in Agriculture, University of Dhaka, Dhaka: The Centre for Urban Studies.  Chowdhury, Nuimuddin. (1986): Revaluation of Women’s Work in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Journal of Agricultural Economics.  Daman Prakash: Rural women, food security and agricultural cooperatives.  K. Chayal, B. L. Dhaka, M. K. Poonia, S. V. S. Tyagi and S. R. Verma : Involvement of Farm Women in Decision- making In Agriculture.  Mohammed Nasir Uddin, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Extension Education, Bangladesh Agricultural University: Agricultural Extension Services In Bangladesh.  Rajwana Munmun, Md. Asaduzzaman Sarker, Mohammad Jiaul Hoque and Khondokar Humayun Kabir, Department of Agricultural Extension Education, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh-2202, Bangladesh: Women’s Participation in Agricultural Activities at Forest Land Areas of Bangladesh.  W. M. H. Jaim and Mahabub Hossain: Women’s Participation in Agriculture in Bangladesh 1988-2008