From heroines to beneficiaries to ‘good women’ entrepreneurs? The duty of females in Jalpaiguri district, West Bengal

Farm wives or woman farmers? how words develop gender problem in agriculture

“It problem what we usage to think other matters with; it problem what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots node knots, what think think thoughts, what descriptions explain descriptions, what ties tie ties. It problem what story make worlds, what people make stories.” (Donna Haraway, 2016).

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In the introduction to her famous publication Gender Trouble, Judith butler articulated a dilemma that is at the love of feminist efforts to represent women: exactly how to produce the (or a) truth about women, if languages or equipment of thought room themselves doubt of gift masculinist?

This dilemma is one that is pertinent for efforts to create (better) truths about women in smallholder agriculture. Prevailing scientific and policy languages offered to make feeling of farming and farming are specifically ill-suited because that representing females or gender, because these languages depend on and also make use of spatial and also ideological imageries the have specifically strong sex connotations.


There"s a strong ideological connotation of the word farmer together someone with a mrs identity. Below a male farmer examines wheat seed in Mexico.
Peter Lowe/CIMMYT.

Talking around agriculture as conquered by males makes it dominated by men

For one, farms and also what go on in ~ them are frequently seen together ‘the job-related place’, a domain or area the is spatially and also socially distinct from ‘the home’. The farm is the location where production (preferably because that the market) wake up (and where incomes space earned), different from the ar where usage happens. Second, the farm is additionally the location that is labeled and also seen together ‘public’, in implicit contrast to the ‘private’ ar of home and also family.

In making sense of agriculture, the public civilization of work and production often tends to figure, and may be ideologically constructed, as a world in which males dominate. This construction may rest on normative ideas that men are or have to be the breadwinners and also principal revenue earners, in comparison to women who are or need to be carers, cleaners and mothers. The is definitively a building and construction that is reinforced by a prevalent and solid ideological connotation of the word farmer as someone through a woman identity.

The usage of this dichotomized metaphors because of this not only strongly determines who are and also can be known as essential actors in farming, but likewise shapes exactly how actors space recognized.

The the contrary metaphors also influence farming thinking in more diffuse ways, v loosely shortcut masculinity with all the matters to farming in implicit opposition come associating femininity through all the is less relevant. Hence, market plants may it is in considered more important 보다 subsistence crops; the irrigation of rice may take priority over the watering of gardens; and also economic and productivity incentives for behavior may be considered an ext real than (and normatively remarkable to) those based upon emotions, solidarity and also affection. Work predominantly excellent by women, such together cooking and also the provision of meals for farming laborers might not be taken into consideration as part of farm work.

The opposition between male and female does no match agricultural realities

How ill-suited this opposing imageries space for representing farming becomes clear as soon as realizing that in smallholder farming, home and work space often closely interconnected: critical objective of farm activities is household survival, however family circumstances and considerations also importantly influence farming decisions and behavior. Indeed, work, fields and genders room not so simple to categorize in two distinct domains.


Most farm activities are around family survival. Here a Bangladeshi husband and wife work-related together cut up feeding for your livestock.

Most smallholder farm yard households display a high degree of interdependence in between production and subsistence activities, and between the household’s farm functions and also its family members functions. Residential (or reproductive) labor is often characteristic of all household members’ activities, throughout agricultural as well as subsistence production, and also is not limited to women’s work. And farming is not just around production, and also not just connected with the activities of those who own abundant resources or make investments.

Re-connecting the relations and also linkages in between the so-called ‘private’ and ‘public’, ‘male’ and also ‘female’ activities, and also acknousmam.orgdging exactly how they space in part defined by and through every other, is therefore main to attempts to produce truths about women in agriculture.

Time to start questioning what we think we know

A appropriate understanding of gender relations in farming and farming is crucially dependency on a thorough re-thinking the the metaphorical and spatial (and periodically ideological and also normative) concepts and images used. That is necessary to get rid of the oppositions between the economic, rational world of production and also politics on the one hand and also the affectionate and also emotional human being of the home and the family on the other that this concepts and images produce.


Women can likewise be decision makers. Below a female farming extension worker (center) talks to women and men farmers around drought-tolerant maize.

This can, because that instance, be excellent by recognizing the subsistence and also livelihood features of farms. It can likewise be excellent by recognizing that males are not just farmers, but additionally husbands and also fathers. Or through acknousmam.orgdging that women’s identities room not confined come those the mothers and (house-)wives, but likewise often incorporate those of farmers and also decision makers. It includes allowing for the opportunity that important agricultural negotiations occur in the domestic domain. And also it calls for a an essential revisiting of what is recognized and defined as farming labor and behavior, and also of that are well-known as farmers, for what is contained in these meanings may fine in itself be gendered.

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Rather 보다 assuming the meaning and boundaries of ‘farms’, ‘households’ and ‘farmers’, and the terms and also criteria for inclusion in agriculture, these concepts and also definitions have to themselves be made the object of inquiry. If these meanings and theoretical categories space themselves a means of defining and also reconfirming ideas about gender—of separating men native women, or the denoting distinctions between masculine from feminine behaviors—is it time to readjust the means we talk about agriculture?


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