Feminisation of Agriculture as an Effect of Male Out-migration: Unexpected Outcomes from Jhapa District, Eastern Nepal

By Hom Nath Gartaula, Anke Niehof and Leontine Visser.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In Nepal, male out-migration is an important factor to contribute to GDP through regular remittances. This paper looks at the effects of male out-migration on the women left behind in relation to labour participation and decision-making in agriculture. The literature speaks of feminisation of agriculture as a positive development for women’s empowerment. A distinction is made between labour feminisation and managerial feminisation. As the two concepts indeed refer to two different roles, power positions and managerial practices, the paper separately explores these practices and actors involved. Data were collected for a doctoral study in Jhapa District, Eastern Nepal; a lowland area from where much male out-migration is taking place. The study shows a higher level of feminisation in a situation where de-facto autonomous female heads-of-household are decision makers and less in case of women who stay within the patrilineal household of their parents-in-law. Moreover, feminisation in the first case has the unexpected outcome that women seem to be moving away from agriculture. An interdisciplinary approach using anthropological in-depth interviews and demographic survey data shows that a concept like feminisation of agriculture needs to be considered and understood in the wider social and cultural context of an expanding rural space.

Keywords: Male Out-migration, Feminisation of Agriculture, Women’s Empowerment, Agricultural Development, Nepal

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.565-578. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 672.790KB).

Hom Nath Gartaula

PhD Candidate, Deparment of Social Sciences, Mansholt Graduate School of Social Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands

Mr. Hom Gartaula holds MSc degree in Management of Agro-ecological Knowledge and Social Change from Wageningen University, the Netherlands with the specialisation in Rural Development Sociology. Currently, he is pursuing PhD study at the same university in the field of food security, wellbeing and labour migration. For the last eight years, he has been involved in academics, research and development activities in Nepal.

Prof. Anke Niehof

Chair, Chairgroup Sociology of Consumers and Households, Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands

Prof. Dr. Anke Niehof is a full professor and chair of the Chairgroup Sociology of Consumers and Households at Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

Prof. Leontine Visser

Chair, Rural Development Sociology Group, Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands

Prof. Dr. Leontine Visser is a full professor and chair of the Chairgroup Rural Development Sociology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

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