OUT OF THE SHADOWS: MAKING FEMALE LABOUR IN AGRICULTURE VISIBLE

Andrew Fieldsend

OUT OF THE SHADOWS: MAKING FEMALE LABOUR IN AGRICULTURE VISIBLE

Although women constitute a major part of the farm labour force they often do not have formal employment status. As a result, the value of their work is often not fully recognised. This is particularly true on family farms, but is also often the case in non-family farm situations. Frequently, the man is the legal „sole holder” of the family farm and the woman, as “spouse” does not have full entitlement to social welfare, healthcare, insurance, pensions etc. Part time and/or seasonal agricultural work off the family farm, which may be necessary to supplement the family farm income, or may be the only source of income for landless, divorced and/or elderly women, or women from ethnic minorities, is commonly undertaken without an employment contract. More equitable ownership and inheritance rights can improve the economic status of farm women and social services, such as childcare, and reduce their workload. Implementation of such solutions may be constrained by the lack of legal awareness amongst both men and women or cultural, or even religious, attitudes. This paper reviews some of the issues and attempts to identify methods for increasing the visibility of the work of farm women.

Key words: Farm women, valuing women’s labour, on-farm, off-farm.
JEL Classification: Q12.

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