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Back | Programme Area: Gender and Development (2000 - 2009)

Gender and Agriculture after Neoliberalism

Date: 19 - 20 Jul 2012

  • Time: 9.00-18.00
  • Location: Villa Rigot, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Avenue de la Paix 9, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Donor(s): Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) & Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
  • Counterpart(s): Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Gender and Agriculture after Neoliberalism
Agriculture is back on the development agenda, and with it comes an unassailable gender component.

The global "multiple crises" of food, fuel, finance, and jobs have accelerated a rethinking of the neoliberal model of development and renewed calls to re-evaluate the role of the state in supporting agricultural production and enhancing food security. A private sector search for lucrative investment opportunities, concerns of food security (especially in view of recent price hikes and concerns about food supply problems), and a rush towards biofuels as a "quick fix" to energy and environmental security needs, underpin the need to redefine agriculture after neoliberalism. What do these shifts in political priorities mean for smallholders? What sorts of shifts in male and female labour must happen to maintain successful agricultural production systems that allow local populations to provision affordable and good quality products?

At the same time, there is an emerging consensus that addressing the role of women as farmers and as providers of food is crucial to alleviating hunger, poverty and unemployment. The overlap between the "material" dimensions of agrarian systems – production, reproduction and consumption – and the "social" dimensions – social relations, entitlements and agency/identity – remains under-scrutinized when probing the influence of international forces on local farming structures. Against the presumption that development must entail a move out of agriculture, this workshop aims to make evident the different pathways that rural development can take in a post-neoliberal context, some more equitable and sustainable than others.

This joint UNRISD and Graduate Institute workshop brought together researchers from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe to assess knowledge gaps and define new perspectives to understand the relationship between neoliberal policies and transformations of gender power relations in agriculture. How do policies and sociopolitical changes emerging "after neoliberalism" articulate issues of women’s empowerment, food security and environmental sustainability?

The workshop allowed us to pool the knowledge of a core group of researchers from various countries in order to clarify some of these questions.

The report of the workshop and Tom Lavers's paper on Conflicting Priorities in the Promotion of Gender Equality in Ethiopia are available online.


Day 1: Thursday 19 July
Opening Session
Chaired by Zene Tadesse, University of South Africa (UNISA) Regional Learning Centre (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and Member of UNRISD Board

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome and introduction
Elisabeth Prügl, Graduate Institute (Geneva, Switzerland)
Shahra Razavi, UNRISD (Geneva, Switzerland)

9:15 –9:45 Framing the issue area: UNRISD/Graduate Institute paper "Gender and Agriculture after Neoliberalism"
• Elisabeth Prügl, Shahra Razavi, Fenneke Reysoo

9:45 – 10:15 Discussion

10:15 – 10:45 COFFEE/TEA BREAK

Session 1 Changing land tenure systems and their gender implications
Chaired by Martina Viarengo, Department of Economics, Graduate Institute (Geneva, Switzerland)

10:45 – 11:00 Revisiting the role of women in Zimbabwe’s agrarian structure in the aftermath of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme
Patience Mutupo, University of Cologne (Cologne, Germany)

11:00 – 11:15 Gender and agriculture in Ghana
Dzodzi Tsikata, University of Ghana (Accra, Ghana)

11:15 – 11:30 Gender and land rights in Ethiopia: Agricultural commercialisation, political control and policy reform
Tom Lavers, University of Bath (Bath, UK)

11:30 – 11:45 Farming is not work! Assessing HIV/AIDS treatment from the margins in Mozambique
Carla Braga, University of Eduardo Mondlane (Maputo, Mozambique)

11:45 – 12:15 Discussion

12:15 – 13:30 LUNCH BREAK

Session 2 Agrarian capitalism, global forces and land grabbing: Continuity
and change
• Chaired by Andrew Fischer, International Institute for Social Studies (The Hague, The Netherlands)

13:30 – 13:45 The politics of global land grabbing: notes on some under-explored themes
Jun Borras, International Institute of Social Studies (the Hague, the Netherlands)

13:45 – 14:00 Continuity and change in Tanzanian agriculture
Marjorie Mbilinyi, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

14:00 – 14:15 Gendered explorations of agricultural intensification, land grabs and villigization in Ethiopia
Zene Tadesse, University of South Africa (UNISA) Regional Learning Centre (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

14:15 – 14:45 Discussion

14:45 – 15:15 COFFEE / TEA BREAK

Session 3 Feminization of labour within agrarian economies: Autonomy or
Chaired by Genevieve LeBaron, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

15:15 – 15:30 Feminization of agriculture in a neoliberal India: How useful are village studies?
Supriya Garikipati, University of Liverpool (Liverpool, UK)

15:30 – 15:45 Where is gender inequality built? Gender and agriculture in Mexico
Patricia Arias, University of Guadalajara (Guadalajara, Mexico)

15:45 – 16:00 Women’s roles and collective actions in sustainable agricultural development, food security and poverty alleviation in China
Yiching Song, Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy (Beijing, China)

16:00 – 16:15 Demographic dimensions of gender and agrarian change: towards a demographic Gershenkronian principle in social policy
Andrew Fischer, International Institute for Social Studies (The Hague, The Netherlands)

16:15 – 16:45 Discussion


Day 2: Friday 20 July
Session 4 Ways forward: Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues
for Development (r4d.ch)
Chaired by Shahra Razavi, UNRISD (Geneva, Switzerland)

9:00 – 9:30 Introduction to the overarching goals of the r4d.ch and its thematic call: Agriculture Production Systems and Food Security
• Fenneke Reysoo, The Graduate Institute (Geneva, Switzerland)

9:30 – 10:30 Setting priority issues in theoretical and thematic approaches
• Plenary brainstorming

10:30 - 11:00 Research partnerships projects
• Plenary brainstorming

11:00 – 11:30 COFFEE/TEA BREAK

Session 5 Working groups: Research hypotheses and objectives of research

11:30 – 13:00 Working groups (2 or 3 parallel groups) elaborate first rough ideas of the research sub-projects according to r4d.ch research proposal criteria and format

13:00 – 14:00 LUNCH

Session 6 Working groups: Case studies and methods

14:00 – 15:30 Working groups (2 or 3 parallel groups) define country case studies and methodological approaches according to r4d.ch research proposal criteria

15:30 – 16:00 COFFEE/TEA BREAK

Session 7 Plenary Debrief
Chaired by Elisabeth Prügl, Graduate Institute (Geneva, Switzerland)

16:00 – 17:30 Rapporteur of each working group (20 minutes each) + Discussion

17:30 – 18:00 Next steps and closure