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).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Pratyusha Basu
Website
Guest Editor
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas at El Paso, USA
Interests: women’s work; livestock-based livelihoods; Green Revolution; gender roles; sustainable development
Dr. Alessandra Galiè
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

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 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 (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
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
Viewed by 540
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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Open AccessArticle
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
Viewed by 544
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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Open AccessArticle
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 1 | Viewed by 745
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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Open AccessArticle
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 2 | Viewed by 699
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
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