What's happening at IRRI

Seminar: SSD

Friday, February 19, 2016, 01:15pm - 02:15pm


Women’s empowerment and gender equity in agriculture: A different perspective from Southeast Asia

Dr. Pieter Rutsaert
Postdoctoral Fellow
Social Sciences Division

Women’s empowerment is considered a “prerequisite” to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Gender systems, however, are diverse and complex. The nature and extent of gender inequality and the conditions necessary to empower women vary across countries, communities and regions. The study of different gender systems is thus eminent to capture the cross-cultural variations in gender specific needs and constraints. Although the status of women in agriculture has received an extensive attention in the literature in the recent decade, research gap persists regarding the state of gender equality in Southeast Asian agriculture. The current paper contributes to the geographical scope of the literature by presenting empirical evidence of gender equity from four Southeast Asian countries, namely Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Using the framework recommended by the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), 37 focus group discussions were conducted with 290 women farmers in the abovementioned countries. The results reveal regional trends that contradict the conventional narratives of gender equality in agriculture. In all four countries, women appeared to have equal access to productive resources such as land and inputs; and a greater control over household income than men. Important intra-regional heterogeneity was observed in terms of community level empowerment. While women played an active role in agricultural groups in Thailand and in the Philippines, this was predominantly men’s territory in Indonesia and Myanmar. These findings imply that region specific gender intervention framework is necessary to effectively address gender gaps in developing countries.


SSD Conference Room, Drilon Hall