Women, Livelihoods, and Rural Change in a Coastal Rice-Growing District of Bangladesh: A Case Study Approach

Sultana, Nasrin (2013). Women, Livelihoods, and Rural Change in a Coastal Rice-Growing District of Bangladesh: A Case Study Approach PhD Thesis, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland.

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Author Sultana, Nasrin
Thesis Title Women, Livelihoods, and Rural Change in a Coastal Rice-Growing District of Bangladesh: A Case Study Approach
School, Centre or Institute School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2013
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Rob Cramb
Mohammad Alauddin
Total pages 284
Total colour pages 3
Total black and white pages 281
Language eng
Subjects 160804 Rural Sociology
160403 Social and Cultural Geography
Abstract/Summary Rural households in Bangladesh are highly dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. As in other developing countries, these households have followed different livelihood strategies to move out of poverty and, in the process, changes have occurred in the roles and positions of household members. Government, non-government, and donor agencies have long been promoting new innovations in the agricultural sector, but the level and sustainability of adoption depends on multiple factors, including both technical and socio-economic aspects. However, the socio-economic aspects of the intervention and innovation process have not been addressed adequately. In particular, the lack of attention to gender roles in household decision making and the implementation of new practices has been a major deficiency. The overall aim of the research is to understand the changing roles of women (and, more broadly, of gender relations) in the construction of rural livelihoods in rice-based farming systems of Bangladesh. The research draws on the rural livelihoods framework to analyse agricultural change within the context of broader rural livelihood strategies, including on- and off-farm diversification. Using a case-study approach, the research focuses on two villages in Noakhali District with contrasting bio-physical and socio-economic settings. Both qualitative and quantitative techniques have been applied. The primary findings reveal that in the traditional patriarchal society of rural Bangladesh, women have distinct roles and a subordinate position in both the household and the village community. However, the traditional roles and status of women are changing in response to changes (shocks and trends) in household livelihoods. The thesis analyses how women’s roles and status are being re-defined and adapted in these changing contexts. Drawing on case histories of individuals and households in the villages, the thesis examines the influence of household composition, household assets, farming activities, seasonal and international migration of men, the weakening of extended family norms, and interventions by government and non-government agencies. It is found that gender relations, especially women’s roles and status within the household, are being renegotiated in response to extreme poverty, the ebb and flow of male migration, and the activities of change agents, resulting in a diversity of practice, even within social groups adhering to the same religious and cultural norms. These findings justify the importance of focusing on gender roles in the construction of agricultural livelihoods. The results will help agricultural scientists, development workers, and policy-makers to re-think technical interventions from the perspective of rural livelihoods and, in particular, to address women as active agents along with men in agricultural and other development planning and implementation.
Keyword rice farming
farm households
rural livelihoods
gender relations
patriarchal society

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Created: Mon, 07 Apr 2014, 17:16:30 EST by Nasrin Sultana on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service