CGIAR Gender News

Off-farm employment increases women’s empowerment

Women employment Photo: ©ILO

Women were slightly more empowered in farm household decision-making if they were engaged in off-farm employment and were less experienced in farming. Off-farm employment is likely to provide women with an opportunity to add to household income, gain knowledge and new information, which can increase their bargaining power in the household.

This suggests that the expansion of women’s portfolio of economic options outside the farm–rather than increasing their participation and experience in on-farm activities–may empower them in on-farm decision-making.

Women make significant contributions to the agriculture sector in many developing countries. Until recently, the common belief was that women in rural areas of developing countries are disadvantaged as they do not have equal access to resources and opportunities compared to men. However, this may not be the case in four Southeast Asian countries: Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

For example, a recent study revealed that compared to men, women in these countries actually have the same level of access to resources, including land and production inputs. Further, the authors found that women, may, in fact, have greater control over household income. As a result, they may have relatively higher participation and more influence in household decisions compared to women in other developing countries.

Farming households, like other households, are faced with multiple decisions. One particular area of decision-making in farm production relates to which agricultural technologies to adopt. A key area that has been examined in the adoption literature is farmer preferences for technology attributes. Numerous empirical studies focus on this as adoption decisions are influenced not only by socio-economic, demographic, or institutional factors but also by how farmers perceive the specific traits of the technology.