Gender Differentiation among Farmers in the Agricultural Sector in Benguet, Philippines

By Lu, Jinky Leilanie | Journal of International Women's Studies, November 2007 | Go to article overview

Gender Differentiation among Farmers in the Agricultural Sector in Benguet, Philippines


Lu, Jinky Leilanie, Journal of International Women's Studies


Abstract

This is a cross sectional study on gender differences in work distribution, means of production, decision making, illness and hazard exposure among male and female vegetable farmers. Personal interviews were conducted among 39 vegetable growers in Benguet. Bivariate analysis showed that the husband's control over income is associated with decision making power in regard household expenditures, except food (p=.050). The illness data showed that the most common illness among the wives involves the respiratory tract, such as cough (7.7%) and asthma (5.1%). Among the husbands, the most common was back pain (10.3%) followed by hypertension, blurred vision and cough (7.7% each). For the adult female, results show that chemical hazards are positively associated with the following farm operations: ploughing (P=0.008), sowing (P=0.001), weeding (P=0.000), manuring (P= 0.000), plant protection (P=0.026), harvesting (P=0.000) and threshing (P=0.042). Association is strongest with chemical hazard and manuring at 0.370 (P=0.000) followed by harvesting at 0.358 (0.000). This shows that women mainly perform manuring and pesticide application, and consequently exposed to chemical hazards. The nature of hazard exposure is related to the task being performed. The results of the study are similar to experiences of developing countries, however, the novelty of this study is its being the first study for such subject population using a quantitative analysis, as well as the inclusion of occupational health- gender issues in the agricultural sector.

Keywords: Gender and Agriculture, Occupational Health, Means of Production, Decision-making

Introduction

The issue of gender in agriculture has had an increasing interest for many investigators across the years because the debate on the role of women in economic development, as well as the double burden that they encounter form both housework and agricultural work. The terms and conditions of women's involvement in the economic sphere are important issues that continue to dominate the debate on gender relations In other words, the new developments led to an increase in the number of women in the labour force, but the impact on their quality of life and decision making processes is still to be felt (Palmer, 1977).

Gender has been demonstrated to permeate the different aspects of production and life in the agricultural setting of various countries and cultures. Men and women work together, but they have been shown to work differently across various tasks.

The sexual division of labor has long existed. Traditionally, men are thought to be the stronger, more active sex and are therefore expected to perform labor-intensive and manual tasks. In agriculture, this usually involves activities such as plowing, harvesting and threshing. Women, on the other hand, have conventionally been considered as more emotional and less physically adept. Their stereotyped tasks therefore usually include household maintenance, taking care of children, marketing and others. In agriculture, most women are delegated to light work such as weeding or manuring felt (Palmer, 1977).

This work related specialization and differentiation has been seen across cultures and has its roots in evolution. Evolutionary researchers have posited that men's focus on hunting and women's aptitude for gathering are for the realization of potentially conflicting mating and parenting goals. Brain-wiring studies have also linked sex differences in spatial and cognitive abilities to sex-specific foraging activities (Panter-Brick, 2002).

This study aims to identify gender differences in work distribution, means of production, decision making and hazard exposure among male and female vegetable farmers. The data may serve as a baseline for related studies in the future and will help us elucidate the mechanics of gender-based work in the local agricultural setting.

Methodology

Personal interviews were conducted among 39 vegetable growers residing in the municipality of Benguet. …

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