ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Gender and Food SecuritySubscribe to Gender and Food Security

Commercialisation, Commodification and Gender Relations in Post-Harvest Systems for Rice in South Asia

When the output of a product that forms the basis of subsistence and social reproduction - as rice is for Asia - expands, the marketed surplus rises disproportionately to the growth rate of production. This implies that activities that once formed part and parcel of household labour activity (performed by women - even if under the control of men) also become commercialised. Food security depends not only on the market, but also on the social and political structures within which markets are situated. One of these social structures is gender. Two aspects of this gendered process are explored in this essay, the first being 'productive deprivation'. Using field evidence from south Asia, the impact of technological change is shown to be strongly net labour displacing and strongly biased against female labour. At the same time, poverty ensures the persistence of petty commodity production, where women are either self-employed or 'unwaged' family workers. As seen in the case of rice production in West Bengal, growth in production has been accompanied by the displacement of women from the rice mill labour forces in which economies of scale have been pitched against unwaged work in petty production.

Gendered Price of Rice in North-Eastern India

This paper examines the practices of gender ideology among the rice-farming groups of northeastern India. It explores the linkages between gendered knowledge and skills, gender roles and labour, and customary norms and power structures. It attempts a comparative analysis of the states in the region using selected gender disparity indicators, which suggest that there is a gendered price to pay for food sustainability. The paper argues that food and livelihood security cannot be ?engendered? by the current development and agricultural policies.

Emphasising Universal Principles towards Deepening of Democracy

If we are to nurture and strengthen democracy and build a secular society in India, participation by all as equal citizens is imperative. In this regard, education of the whole population is essential. Although the transformation of a country from a high level of illiteracy to one of near universal literacy cannot be achieved overnight, the fact remains that the status of a child going to school contrasts sharply with that of a full-time worker, even in a situation of low literacy levels. The school going child is treated primarily as a student and any work performed by him/her cannot be at the expense of his/her school activities. In other words, it is accepted that the primary activity of the child is that of a student and not a worker. Therefore, any programme to increase literacy levels among children must necessarily also be a programme to reduce the incidence of child labour. The two objectives are contingent on each other.

Gender Equality, Land Rights and Household Food Security

This paper seeks to examine the issue of land rights, and its links with household food security as well as gender equality and questions some of the assumptions being made therein. After a brief analysis of shifts in policy discourse and practice, both nationally and internationally, in terms of agricultural production and land management as vital for food security, it seeks to analyse the implications of some of these measures on gender relations. Does the increasing attention to women reflect growing gender equality, or does it lead to an enhancement of the work burden and responsibilities, without much change in terms of status or decision-making authority?

Labour Outmigration, Livelihood of Rice Farming Households and Women Left Behind

This is an article based on a case study of labour outmigration of rice farming households in the three districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. The paper examines the incidence, patterns and impact of labour outmigration on the livelihood of rice farmers and their women left behind. The authors find that migration has increased women's decision-making capacity predominantly. But at the same time their lack of access to modern seed technology impedes their work.

Fostering Insecure Livelihoods

Dowry and female seclusion are aspects of a system of property regulation that restrict women's ability to directly own and control property. In this context, it is hardly surprising that agrarian reform has reproduced female disadvantage in property rights and accentuated female seclusion linked to social mobility. The author examines substantial gender disparity in property rights over land, rising levels of dowry and the constraints women face in taking up paid work, etc, which pose serious questions for the livelihood security of poor women in Kerala and West Bengal.

Feminisation of Agriculture and Marginalisation of Their Economic Stake

The government as well as international organisations have implemented many programmes aimed at rural women. But actually their programmes do not touch upon the issues related to women's higher income work opportunities, upward economic mobility, rights such as equal wages for equal work and property rights. This article analyses the declining economic stake of women in agriculture in spite of their increasing contribution.

Food Security: How and For Whom?

Food security is contingent on three parameters - availability, accessibility and affordability. While availability and accessibility relate to production and distribution, the question of affordability is linked to Amartya Sen's concepts of 'endowment' and 'exchange entitlements', that is, the resources at one's disposal that determines one's capacity to buy food. The papers in this collection on gender and food security deal precisely with this problem of endowment and exchange entitlement, especially with regard to women. They seek to draw attention to the resources, mainly employment, available to women for procuring food. However, apart from inadequate opportunities for wage labour, lack of command over productive resources acts as a major constraint on those women who do undertake farming for the household. Participation in the production of food, moreover, does not guarantee commensurate returns. All the papers deal with rice farming, but they are illustrative of the general situation regarding food security among poor women and point to the urgency of public measures for the protection of this vulnerable section.
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