Seeds of Change Conference: Gender in Agricultural Research for Development

The Seeds of Change conference was held in early April, with a focus on bringing together gender researchers from around the world. Supported by ACIAR, the CGIAR Collaborative Platform on Gender and the University of Canberra, a total of 280 participants from 48 countries contributed to wide ranging discussions around current work in gender related research, and key ideas for the future.

 Professor Sucharita Sen from JNU in Delhi attended the conference and presented her work on the role of women in agriculture across the EGP, which has been conducted as part of ACIAR’s SDIP program. Sucharita’s key aim at the conference was to highlight the different patterns of how women are engaged in agriculture in the EGP, both at macro and micro levels. While feminisation is occurring in both Nepal and Bangladesh, in India the story is quite different. There are relatively high levels of defeminisation in Bihar in particular, but also in West Bengal. In exploring this trend more deeply with field level work, it appears that there are different factors at play; for some women, their withdrawal from the workforce is due to increasing prosperity, while for others the opposite is true, and a level of distress in terms of not being able to find wage labour for the very poor households.

 There was great interest in Sucharita’s presentation, and during the conference she had discussions with many of the other participants. The key interest in Sucharita’s work revolved around:

  • The surprising issue of defeminisation in Indian part of Eastern Gangetic Plains and the possible factors that shape it, the complex nature of this and how this works differently for different sections of women.

  • The specific counter-intuitive finding of defeminisation in Bihar, which is a male out-migrating state and the relationship between the overall trends of unemployment for men and their return to agriculture.

  • The religious cultural characteristics that define the nature of work of women in Bangladesh, and its specific nature of invisibility.

You can see an interview with Sucharita from the Seeds of Change conference here.

To complement Sucharita’s presentation, a short film summarising the project’s results was released at the conference. This film is available on the project website here.

For more information, please contact Professor Sucharita Sen (ssen.jnu@gmail.com).

Women in Bihar are increasingly leaving the paid workforce, both for distress and prosperity related reasons. Distress related withdrawal includes not having time for paid work when daily chores take up too much time. Here a group of women walk out along a path leading into farming fields to collect fodder for their animals in Dogachi village, Purnea District, Bihar, India.

Women in Bihar are increasingly leaving the paid workforce, both for distress and prosperity related reasons. Distress related withdrawal includes not having time for paid work when daily chores take up too much time. Here a group of women walk out along a path leading into farming fields to collect fodder for their animals in Dogachi village, Purnea District, Bihar, India.

NewsTamara Jackson