Women Farmers and Commercial Ventures: Increasing Food Security in Developing Countries

By Anita Spring | Go to book overview

3
The Myth of the Masculine Market:
Gender and Agricultural
Commercialization in the
Ecuadorean Andes
Sarah Hamilton

Throughout Latin America, the productive contributions and constraints of women farmers were largely ignored in the development policies, programs, and projects that effectively restructured small-scale commercial agriculture during the open market or planned economy modernization drives of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Male-oriented development agendas also characterized the subsequent decades of structural adjustment and shrinking public investment in agriculture. Reflecting the perceptions of policymakers and development planners that men would direct agricultural change within households and community organizations, women were largely excluded from public land reform programs that enabled smallscale producers to own or use lands formerly held by less-productive large estates (Deere 1986; Arizpe and Botey 1987). State- and donor-funded programs designed to increase commercial output in the smallholding sector channeled technology, credit, and marketing assistance to men, whereas women's programs focused on homemaking and supplemental income-earning activities (Chaney and Schmink 1976; Flora and Santos 1986). More recent initiatives to privatize landownership among holders of redistributed lands and to restructure formerly public technical extension and credit services (often through contracting between farmers and buyers who offer technology credit-marketing packages) perpetuated the institutionalizing of gender-differentiated access to the means of commercial production (von Braun, Hotchkiss, and Immink 1989; Stephen 1994; Katz 1995; Zapata Martelo 1996; Hamilton 1998a).

Contrary to the perceptions of national and international development professionals, rural women in many parts of Latin America traditionally had household economic responsibilities, including labor and management

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