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close this bookGender aspects of woodfuel flows in Sri Lanka (1999)
close this folder4. Gender aspects of the woodfuel flow process in rural areas
View the document4.1 Activities
View the document4.2 The work place/source
View the document4.3 Men and women as two gender categories
View the document4.4 Patterns of involvement in work activities
View the document4.5 Patterns of involvement in woodfuel related activities in the seven villages
View the document4.6 Reasons for women's dominant role in flow activities
View the document4.7 Commercial woodfuel flow for home consumption
View the document4.8 Flow of commercial woodfuel for rural industries
View the document4.9 Woodfuel supply sources and species
View the document4.10 Discussion

4.5 Patterns of involvement in woodfuel related activities in the seven villages

This general picture described above seems relevant to all 7 villages. In all 7 villages, women play major roles in all activities (Tables 16-22). Men are involved primarily in harvesting and splitting round wood, and they are less involved in trimming, gathering deadwood, bundling and carrying in headloads and stock maintenance (see Table 14). The overall pattern emerging from the villages studies leads to the conclusion that women dominate the woodfuel flow process. Men make a smaller contribution and in some cases this is made jointly with women (Table 23).

This allocation of tasks by gender is associated with the conventional ideology pertaining to masculine and feminine types of work. Although men are not the main actors they are primarily engaged in harvesting fuelwood when tree climbing, felling and large branch pruning are involved. It is the traditional norm that women do not climb trees, so any harvesting requiring climbing is considered men's work. Women themselves believe that such work is unmanageable. Many also mentioned that splitting wood cannot be done by women alone because splitting large billets is a hard task. The process involves cutting large logs into billets of fairly short lengths ranging between 3-4 feet using either handsaws or axes to cross cut logs. The tools used depend on the size of the logs, the availability of better tools like hand saws, and also the availability of labour (two people must work together to use hand saws for cross-cutting). None of these tasks is considered suitable for women. However, if the branches or the logs are of small diameter then both cross-cutting and splitting are attended to by women and if the wood is of manageable size then cross cutting and splitting are done by women alone.

It is difficult to quantify the diameter of the logs or wood that women can cross-cut and split. The conventional ideology , as repeatedly mentioned by men and women consulted in the survey, is that in general both these tasks are too 'hard' for women to attend to systematically. However, 18% of the women in the sample mentioned that they split large size logs for self-consumption when men's labour is not available and when no other wood substitutes are available.