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Women’s Participation in Agriculture in Bangladesh 1988-2008: Changes and Determinants
W. M. H. Jaim and Mahabub Hossain

November - 2011

Abstract:

In Bangladesh, being a traditional Muslim society, women’s participation in economic activities in general and in agriculture in particular has remained low. But recent labor force surveys conducted by the Bureau of Statistics show rapidly increasing participation of women in economic activities.  The progress is attributed to poverty, empowerment of women by NGOs, and migration of male members from agriculture to non-farm occupation. With the absence of male members, women’s role is changing from unpaid family worker to farm managers, a phenomenon termed as “feminization of agriculture”. This paper uses unpublished longitudinal panel data from a nationally representative sample survey in 62 villages conducted in 2000 and 2008 that covered the same households to assess the trend and determinants of women’s involvement in agricultural activities. It uses a module on time budget for all adult members for the last four days preceding the survey.  The second author was the Principal Investigator in all three surveys. The results show that 66 percent of women participated in agricultural activities in 2008, an increase from 58 percent in 2000. The allocation of time has also increased from 1.11 to 1.28 hours per day although this was less than 1988 level. But the participation was limited to mostly livestock and poultry farming which is a marginal economic activity with allocation of only 0.91 hour of labor per day. The participation in crop farming was low. Only 3.85 percent of the female workers participated in crop farming in 2008, compared to 53 percent for men. But crop farming is a relatively full time activity for them with allocation of 2.92 hours per day in 2008 which has reduced from 4.30 hours per day in 1988. Only about 1 percent of the women participated in the agricultural labor market in 2000 and 2008. Women’s participation in agricultural labor market remains insignificant at 1.07 percent of agricultural workers compared to 23% for male workers in 2008. A regression analysis show that women’s participation is negatively related with landholding, age after some limit, village level electricity, education of household head, distance of bus stop from village and wage rate in non-agriculture, but positively related with age of female workers, irrigated area of female workers’ households, NGO membership of women, remoteness of village and agricultural wage rate in village. Changes in income of the participating and non-participating women laborers’ households in agricultural activities, and the determinants of the changes in income are also reported in the paper.

 

Keywords: Longitudinal survey, panel data, time budget, women’s participation in agriculture, feminization of agriculture

 

 
 
 

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