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Special Issue "Gender and Rural Development: Sustainable Livelihoods in a Neoliberal Context"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020) | Viewed by 12128

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Pratyusha Basu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968, USA
Interests: urban-rural intersections; gender and class identities; displacements and mobilities; rural livelihoods; industrial employment
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Alessandra Galiè
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
International Livestock Research Institute, Box 30709, Nairobi, Kenya
Interests: gender; empowerment; livestock; seed

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The mainstreaming of gender issues in rural development programs seeks to challenge and transform gender inequalities through inclusion of women’s work and knowledge. Critiques of such attempts have considered how men also need to be enrolled in the project of challenging gender inequalities and whether the inclusion of women further burdens them with responsibility for development. While these critiques are useful, there is also a sense in which they remain confined within the bounds of rural development, missing how the broader context may change the very parameters of rural development. This broader context includes the rise of neoliberal governance as the principal approach to economic and social development, the increasing urbanization of the world, and the decline of small-scale agriculture in the face of competitive market pressures. The questions raised about gender and rural development thus have to change accordingly. Three possible pathways to new questions can be posited. First, it is useful to consider how widespread urbanization is affecting rural women and whether rural development programs are becoming a means to pursue new occupations or whether rural women are increasingly moving outside the reach of rural development. Second, the privileging of entrepreneurial identities and market-based livelihoods within neoliberal development has also reconstructed women as ideal neoliberal subjects. The extent to which this instrumental use of gender is being accepted or resisted needs to be examined. Third, the withdrawal of the state from providing social services may be pushing the burden of taking care of family members and neighbors onto women. The ways in which development programs are responding to new gendered responsibilities for care work in rural contexts is another fruitful arena for analysis. More broadly, there is a need to study how neoliberal development is changing the possibility of sustainable rural livelihoods and simultaneously constructing new gender identities.

This Special Issue seeks to take a broad and inclusive view of gender and rural development and welcomes qualitative and quantitative studies from across the Global South and North. It especially seeks articles that focus on how economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable livelihoods can be constructed in contexts of change.

Possible topics for the Special Issue include:

  • Changing notions of women’s and men’s work in crop and livestock farming;
  • Gendered aspects of new agricultural technologies (e.g., GMOs, high-yielding crop and livestock varieties, smart agriculture);
  • Rural women’s experiences of being connected to new market opportunities;
  • Reasons for migration of women from rural to urban contexts;
  • Rise of entrepreneurial and market discourses in rural development programs;
  • Encounters between global and local gender identities in development;
  • Environmental aspects of rural sustainability (e.g., climate change, deforestation, dams, loss of native species).

Dr. Pratyusha Basu
Dr. Alessandra Galiè
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • gender and development
  • gender division of labor
  • gender inequalities
  • women’s empowerment
  • market-led development
  • agrarian transition
  • crops
  • livestock
  • livelihood analysis

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Introduction to Special Issue: Gender and Rural Development: Sustainable Livelihoods in a Neoliberal Context
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 12258; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112258 - 06 Nov 2021
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Abstract
This editorial introduces the articles that are part of the Special Issue on ‘Gender and Rural Development: Sustainable Livelihoods in a Neoliberal Context.’ Full article

Research

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Article
Nested Scales of Sustainable Livelihoods: Gendered Perspectives on Small-Scale Dairy Development in Kenya
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9396; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169396 - 21 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 690
Abstract
The sustainability of rural development programs has often been conceptualized through the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework, or SLF. This article utilizes the SLF to examine the outcomes of small-scale dairy development in western Kenya and thus connect local perspectives on livelihoods with broader ideas [...] Read more.
The sustainability of rural development programs has often been conceptualized through the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework, or SLF. This article utilizes the SLF to examine the outcomes of small-scale dairy development in western Kenya and thus connect local perspectives on livelihoods with broader ideas of sustainable livelihoods. Drawing on individual interviews conducted with farmers in three dairy development sites in western Kenya, it examines compatibilities and contradictions between productivity and sustainability, and how gender becomes a vantage point from which the links between micro- and macro-sites, or nested scales of sustainable livelihoods, become visible. Three main kinds of benefits related to dairy development are identified by respondents: increase in income, access to market, and ability to keep improved cattle. In conjunction with these benefits, respondents identified problems related to women’s independent access to income, wider community consumption of milk, and lack of infrastructure, respectively. This study thus shows that while income and productivity is prized by all respondents, gender enables this broader goal to be viewed in more nuanced terms—not only within the household, but also through links between the household and the wider community and state. Gender thus becomes salient across the nested scales of sustainable livelihoods and provides insights into how a more encompassing notion of sustainable livelihoods can be implemented. Full article
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Article
Intra-Household Handling and Consumption Dynamics of Milk in Peri-Urban Informal Markets in Tanzania and Kenya: A Gender Lens
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3449; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063449 - 20 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 911
Abstract
Milk, provided it is safe, provides important micronutrients that can combat hidden hunger (undernutrition). Many peri-urban poor people in Tanzania and Kenya use informal markets to purchase milk in order to provide nutritional benefits to their families. Household decision-making processes play an influential [...] Read more.
Milk, provided it is safe, provides important micronutrients that can combat hidden hunger (undernutrition). Many peri-urban poor people in Tanzania and Kenya use informal markets to purchase milk in order to provide nutritional benefits to their families. Household decision-making processes play an influential role in how much milk to buy and how it is treated. This exploratory qualitative study, conducted in peri-urban Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, examined how access to milk, control over milk handling and safety, and intra-household milk distribution are affected by gender dynamics and by changes in milk availability and price. Focus group discussions with 48 women and 45 men and key informant interviews with 8 men and 8 women, all of whom were parents or caretakers to young children, were conducted. The results indicate that gender roles in milk purchase and handling vary. Generally, providing enough milk is a man’s responsibility, whilst a woman is expected to ensure a nutritious diet. Yet women’s limited decision-making power regarding milk purchase can restrict their ability to provide sufficient milk. Interventions to promote safe milk consumption need to consider gender norms, strengthen intra-household collaborative decision-making, include men in nutrition programming, and increase women’s control over food expenditures. Full article
Article
Gender Roles in Sourcing and Sharing of Banana Planting Material in Communities with and without Banana Bunchy Top Disease in Nigeria
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3310; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063310 - 17 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 959
Abstract
Banana bunchy top disease (BBTD) is the most devastating disease of banana and plantain (Musa spp.). The disease spreads through the use of infected vegetative propagules and the banana aphid (Pentalonia nigronervosa) is the virus vector. This study seeks to [...] Read more.
Banana bunchy top disease (BBTD) is the most devastating disease of banana and plantain (Musa spp.). The disease spreads through the use of infected vegetative propagules and the banana aphid (Pentalonia nigronervosa) is the virus vector. This study seeks to understand the gender dimensions and sociocultural aspects of banana seed (vegetative propagule) sourcing and sharing practices among men and women farmers, and its influence on BBTD spread and disease control efforts. Data were collected from 300 banana farmers (187 men and 113 women) in BBTD and non-BBTD areas in southwest Nigeria. The results revealed that seed sharing within the communities is a social responsibility with members expected to share banana seed with the needy mainly as gifts rather than sold for cash. Men farmers mostly sourced seed from old fields, while women sourced seed from relatives. Harvesting of banana seed was predominantly the responsibility of men with women as helpers. Both men and women farmers in the non-BBTD area cultivated larger farm sizes and harvested more banana planting material than farmers in the BBTD area. The existing seed sourcing practices among men and women farmers heighten the risk of BBTD spread. Awareness raising on disease spread through infected seeds should consider gender-differentiated roles and social practices to reduce its spread within communities. Full article
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Article
Investigating the Conceptual Plurality of Empowerment through Community Concept Drawing: Case Studies from Senegal, Kenya, and Nepal
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3166; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063166 - 13 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1529
Abstract
Women’s empowerment is a driving concept in gender and development scholarship. This scholarship often engages quantitative indices of evaluation that are unable to account for culturally specific meaning and nuance that shape local understandings of empowerment. Recent efforts within the field of international [...] Read more.
Women’s empowerment is a driving concept in gender and development scholarship. This scholarship often engages quantitative indices of evaluation that are unable to account for culturally specific meaning and nuance that shape local understandings of empowerment. Recent efforts within the field of international development are attempting to create methodological mechanisms for capturing this nuance. This study employs one such method, Community Concept Drawing (CCD), in rural villages within Kenya, Senegal, and Nepal. Findings indicate significant differences between the field sites in the local conceptualization of empowerment. Cross-examination of site-specific data yields an understanding of how cultural norms and values shape local perceptions of empowerment in ways that are critical for research that engages gendered understandings. Furthermore, such analysis is critical to a more accurate understanding of the locally specific context of gender inequity. Full article
Article
Gender and Social Seed Networks for Climate Change Adaptation: Evidence from Bean, Finger Millet, and Sorghum Seed Systems in East Africa
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2074; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042074 - 15 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1567
Abstract
In many East African countries, women and men have different levels of access to formal markets for agricultural inputs, including seed, reflecting a combination of gender norms and resource constraints. As a result, women and men may have different levels of participation in—and [...] Read more.
In many East African countries, women and men have different levels of access to formal markets for agricultural inputs, including seed, reflecting a combination of gender norms and resource constraints. As a result, women and men may have different levels of participation in—and reliance upon—informal seed systems for sourcing preferred planting material and accessing new crop varieties over time. We use network analysis to explore differences in seed networks accessed by women and men for three major food security crops—beans, finger millet, and sorghum—in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Drawing on data from an original survey of 1001 rural farm households across five study sites, we find that women, on average, have fewer connections to experts and farmers’ groups than men but are relatively better connected in farmer-to-farmer social networks across different farming systems. We further find women’s and men’s networks are clustered by gender (i.e., women’s networks include more women, and men’s networks include more men)—and that men’s networks are more likely to exchange improved seed. Women’s networks, though sometimes larger, are less likely to exchange improved varieties that might help farmers adapt to climate change. Women farmers across contexts may also be more reliant on farmer-to-farmer networks than men due to their relative isolation from other seed and information sources. Findings emphasize the need for careful attention to the different implications of seed policies, market interventions, and other seed system reforms to support gender-equitable food security options for women and men in sub-Saharan Africa. Full article
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Article
A Game-Based Approach to Exploring Gender Differences in Smallholder Decisions to Change Farming Practices: White Rice Production in Laos
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6594; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166594 - 14 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1018
Abstract
What influences farmers’ decisions to adopt agricultural technologies is an important question for international agricultural research projects. There are often interpersonal differences between women and men that influence the adoption of decisions and behaviours, but few studies in the literature focus on these [...] Read more.
What influences farmers’ decisions to adopt agricultural technologies is an important question for international agricultural research projects. There are often interpersonal differences between women and men that influence the adoption of decisions and behaviours, but few studies in the literature focus on these factors. We describe a game-based approach to explore decision-making processes underpinning the adoption of new farming technologies and practices in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Sowing a different rice variety is the tailored technology. The game explored adoption behaviours influencing decisions on transitioning from growing glutinous rice, a traditional variety preferred for consumption, to “white” rice for commercial export to international markets. We conducted separate game-workshops with 36 women and 36 men in 4 villages of southern Laos that were transitioning from subsistence to commercial smallholder production. The gaming exposed various possible behaviours and decisions that women and men considered. Access to resources, both assets and information, was equal for all players, yet women were found to adopt new rice varieties more readily than men and to engage in cooperative behaviours in the game situation. The study highlighted the need for further gender-sensitive research into cooperation among women in the agricultural context—an understanding beneficial for countries and regions undergoing agricultural transition. Full article
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Article
Gendered Roles in Agrarian Transition: A Study of Lowland Rice Farming in Lao PDR
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5403; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135403 - 03 Jul 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1266
Abstract
Traditional lifestyles of lowland rice farmers of the southern provinces of Lao People’s Democratic Republic are rapidly changing, due to two important trends. Firstly, there is a push towards modernization and commercialization of farming. Secondly, though farmers still focus on rice farming as [...] Read more.
Traditional lifestyles of lowland rice farmers of the southern provinces of Lao People’s Democratic Republic are rapidly changing, due to two important trends. Firstly, there is a push towards modernization and commercialization of farming. Secondly, though farmers still focus on rice farming as a key activity, there is an increasing move towards diversification of livelihoods. The changes have seen the uptake of non-rice crops, livestock husbandry and forest and river utilization; as well as non-farming activities. This has influenced gender relations, impacting household agricultural production decisions and amplified transitional trends. To explore the processes, we analyzed data from a study of innovation adoption amongst rice farmers in southern Lao PDR. The study revealed nuances of gender-based differences in the priorities and attitudes towards farming and off-farm activities, as well as differences in behaviour related to the adoption of new practices. Women were more focused on non-farming practices and considered engaging in the modern, non-traditional, economy more so than men. Women also reported experiencing greater challenges when engaging and trading in the agricultural marketplace. The study supports the importance of taking a gendered approach to understanding the inherent complexities within agrarian change. Full article
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Article
Beyond Economic Earnings: The Holistic Meaning of Success for Women in Agritourism
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4907; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124907 - 16 Jun 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1396
Abstract
Women’s predominant role in agritourism expands their also significant involvement in agriculture and rural development. Yet, when measured in economic terms, women in agritourism appear to be less successful than men. We argue that economic earnings are a limited measure of success, as [...] Read more.
Women’s predominant role in agritourism expands their also significant involvement in agriculture and rural development. Yet, when measured in economic terms, women in agritourism appear to be less successful than men. We argue that economic earnings are a limited measure of success, as women value their accomplishments in a comprehensive and distinctive sense. To better understand women’s success in agritourism, we conducted a study addressing limitations in methodologies and scope of the existing scholarship. Framed within feminist and emic approaches, we used a combination of qualitative methods of inquiry (open-ended interviews, mini focus groups, nominal group exercises) to generate data from 20 female agritourism entrepreneurs in North Carolina (USA). Findings show women in agritourism define success through nine distinct themes, four of which are newly emerging (ensuring customer satisfaction, being constantly on the move, pursuing happiness, perpetuating the family farm). Participants also identified seven opportunities that they perceive contribute to their self-defined success. Our study adds to the scholarship and practice of gender in agritourism by expanding the economic definition of entrepreneurial success. In doing so, we provide managerial and policy intelligence that can be used to stimulate rural development. Full article

Review

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Review
When Is Choice Empowering? Examining Gender Differences in Varietal Adoption through Case Studies from Sub-Saharan Africa
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3678; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073678 - 26 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1195
Abstract
This paper examines the question of what makes choice empowering and critiques prevalent approaches to empowerment focused narrowly on agency as the ability of individuals to make their own free choices and act independently. The implications of a narrow focus on agency are [...] Read more.
This paper examines the question of what makes choice empowering and critiques prevalent approaches to empowerment focused narrowly on agency as the ability of individuals to make their own free choices and act independently. The implications of a narrow focus on agency are illustrated with the examples of technology choice in agriculture, specifically choices involved in the adoption of improved plant varieties. This example elucidates the limits of individual agency and permits an analysis of how choices may be structured to be either empowering or disempowering, with examples from specific plant breeding cases. In view of the importance given to equitable choice of technology for closing the gender gap in agricultural productivity and sustainability, the paper explores what practical steps can be taken towards a balanced approach to empowerment. An approach to designing a new plant variety by constructing choice differently is illustrated, using information on gender relations. The paper derives lessons from the plant breeding cases to inform other kinds of interventions, so that work on how choices are defined is given as much importance for empowerment as creating the option to choose. Agents who exercise power over rules and resources can either reproduce the status quo or innovate; thus, a balanced approach to empowerment requires careful analysis of the elements of choice. Full article
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