Gender in Agriculture Partnership

Transforming agriculture to empower women and deliver food, nutrition and income security

Identifying women farmers: Informal gender norms as institutional barriers to recognizing women’s contributions to agriculture

Sex-disaggregated data collection is an important step toward understanding women’s contributions to agriculture and including a gender perspective in agricultural research for development. However, social norms both in farming communities and research organizations often limit the amount of data collected from women and, in so doing, reinforce the notion that women are not farmers or producers. This is especially true for male-dominated crops, such as rice in Latin America. This study draws on experiences collecting sex-disaggregated data about rice production in three Latin American countries: Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. We find that it is difficult to collect information from women in rice producing households within the framework of typical agricultural household surveys. Filter questions in the surveys ask for the principal farmer or landholder, the person most knowledgeable about production, or the manager or primary decision-maker. Women often do not consider themselves the primary rice producer or farmer in the household; they see their role as being in the home and helping with rice production when needed. Furthermore, researchers, field staff, and community leaders often assume that women are not farmers; thus, women are not interviewed. For these reasons, most researchers determine that there are few women rice producers, further reinforcing the notion that women are not farmers. However, the data that does exist, collected mostly from men, indicates that women play significant roles in rice production. Hence, it is important to collect data from women as well as men to better understand their roles, perspectives, and knowledge about rice production activities.

To download the full paper published in the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security, visit the Agri-gender website

Photo credit: FAO-Giuseppe Bizzari

Stakeholder group: 
Twyman, Jennifer
Muriel, Juliana
Garcia, Maria Alejandra