Women twice as active as men in agricultural activities

Women farmer shake vegetable green cultivated land agriculture Mahmud Hossain Opu / Dhaka Tribune

New study depicts disadvantageous position of women due to landlessness, wage discrimination and non-recognition of unpaid work

Women constitute almost 65% of the agricultural labor force in Bangladesh, but they have very limited land ownership, forcing them to work mainly under the supervision of their male counterparts.

Most of the tasks they perform in the agricultural production value chain are unpaid labor, and when it comes to earning a salary for agricultural work, women receive much less than what men earn. for the same jobs.

A new study on the role of women in Bangladeshi agriculture has just revealed that 47.6% of the approximately 57 million labor force in the country are involved in agricultural work, and 64.8% of them are women.

It is found that although the number of women in the agricultural sector is almost double that of men involved in the sector, in most cases women do not own the land on which they work, and men have a greater control over them due to land ownership. .

At the request of the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), three professors from the Agricultural University of Bangladesh (BAU), Mymensingh – Dr Ismat Ara Begum, Dr Mohammad Jahangir Alam and Dr Mahbub Hossain – conducted the study titled ‘Recognition of role of women in agriculture ”, which began last year, and presented the results in a webinar on Thursday.

While the wages of male workers vary between 285 Tk and 352 Tk on average, the wages of female workers vary between 182 Tk and 214 Tk for the same tasks. This is indeed a strong discrimination against women, the webinar noted.

The researchers state: “Traditionally, rural women in Bangladesh have played a crucial role in a wide range of income-generating activities, post-harvest activities, cow fattening, milking, goat rearing, family poultry and (and) market gardening. Rural women are silent workers and fundamental contributors to the rural economy.

“In addition, women also take care of all members of the household, especially children. Thus, the role of women is vital not only for household food security, but also for the well-being of a household.

Read also – Covid-19 food crisis: women farmers most at risk

They note: “Invariably, rural women face an enormous workload – the double burden of caregiving and the labor market. However, the role and contribution of women to the national economy is generally not taken into account. In view of this, it seems important to assess the work burden of rural women in agriculture, and how rural women can be duly recognized.

The main concern is the proportion of women engaged in salaried jobs; only about 15% of rural women are in paid or paid employment. The rest of the work – both in terms of household chores and activities on the farm – women remain largely unobtainable.

The internationally recognized method known as the System of National Accounts (SNA) does not take into account the unpaid activities of women. The main reason behind this is that the SNA does not recognize the work that goes wrong in the market.

As women’s domestic work is not traded in the markets, it has no exchange value.

Women’s work in the home is both reproductive and productive in nature, which has no monetary value.

In a concept note, MJF says: “A strong gender division of the household role forces women to take care of household activities, including childcare and elder care. In addition to all these responsibilities, most rural women in Bangladesh play an active role in ensuring household food security for their families. Agricultural activities on the farms, ranging from seed selection to harvesting and storage of crops, are mainly managed by women in Bangladesh.

“A large majority of households in Bangladesh depend on agriculture, and women are now becoming a vital part of these agricultural activities. Therefore, the role of women in agriculture should be appropriately recognized in the GDP to improve the status of women at family and societal levels, ”the concept note reads.

The 2011 National Policy for the Development of Women (NWDP) made provisions to guarantee women’s rights in agriculture, food security and the agricultural economy. The NWDP states that women workers as agricultural labor contributing to the national economy must be recognized.

The NWDP is committed to expanding its support and assistance to ensure equal pay for the same work and to eliminate pay discrimination for women in agriculture, and to take measures to ensure that women farmers have equal opportunities and access to resources and assets.

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