/ Women and Population
Posted 3 June 1996
Fact sheet: Women, Agriculture and Rural Development
Population: 64.2 million
Growth rate: 2.3%
Fertility rate: 3.5
IMR: 40/1,000 births
Source: "World Bank Atlas", 1994
Importance of agriculture in the economy
a dominant role in the economy, contributing 2.21% to the GDP in 1990, and
employing 45.5% of the labour force in 1992. About 51% of the population
resided in rural areas in 1991. The main export crops are coconuts, sugar
cane, bananas and pineapples, while the principal subsistence crops are
rice, maize and cassava. Livestock (mainly pigs, goats, water buffalo and
poultry) and fisheries are important. Due to deforestation, the export of
logs, formerly a important source of foreign exchange, and sawn wood were
banned in 1986 and 1989, respectively. The major agro-ecological systems
are coastal fishing, lowland irrigated farming, rainfed farming, upland
farming, and riverine and lake fishing usually combined with crop cultivation.
Role of women in agriculture
Approximately 50% of rural women are classified as members of the labour
force. In 1992, 25.8% of the agricultural labour force, including fisheries
and forestry, were women. Women play important roles in both cash crops
and subsistence production, and in small livestock raising. They also take
part in some aspects of fisheries. To feed their families, women cultivate
kitchen gardens and subsistence crops, mainly rootcrops.
Division of Labour by Gender
Women and men have distinct, but not necessarily rigid, tasks and responsibilities
which often vary by crop or activity. In general, land clearing and preparation
are carried out by men, except where minimum tillage is required, as in
vegetable gardening. Women supply the major part of the labour for planting,
weeding and harvesting, while men are largely responsible for spraying chemicals
and fertilizers and mechanized tasks. Women are heavily engaged in post-harvest
tasks, such as threshing, processing and marketing. A similar division of
labour prevails in agro-forestry production. Women are largely responsible
for poultry raising and for most pig-raising activities, while men tend
to cattle and water buffalo. In fisheries, women are responsible for processing
and marketing. As transportation facilities improve, women are also increasingly
involved in transporting produce to the market. In addition, women bear
almost total responsibility for household tasks.
Gender Relations in Decision-making in Farming Activities
Although men tend to have greater decision-making power in farming activities,
women participate in farming decisions to a great extent and have their
own areas of authority, particularly in regard to seed selection, harvesting,
threshing, storage, processing, and the utilization of the harvest. Women
also have major decision-making power in regard to how to allocate earnings,
how much of the harvest to sell and what to feed their families. Men generally
have a greater say in regard to credit and loans, although in certain communities,
such decisions are made jointly.
Sharing of power and decisionmaking
Members and Officers of Agricultural/Rural Organizations
Although members and office bearers of agricultural and rural organizations
are predominantly male, women comprise a significant percentage of both.
For instance, the number of women members in farmer's associations has increased
from 16% in the early 1980s to 26% in the early 1990s. During the same period,
their representation as office bearers increased from 3% to 29%. In regards
to women members of cooperatives, they represented 41% in the early 1990s,
and constituted 37-55% of the office bearers. However, membership in fisherfolks'
associations remains predominantly male.
Women in Decision-making Positions in Ministries and Government Bodies
Women comprise only a small percentage of decision-makers in the government
agencies that plan and oversee rural and agricultural development programmes.
Mechanisms to promote the advancement of women
The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) was established
in the Office of the President in 1975 to review, evaluate and recommend
measures, including priorities, to ensure full integration of women for
economic, social and cultural development and to ensure further equality
between men and women. A major achievement was the drafting of the Philippine Development Plan
for Women, adopted by the Government in 1989, which contains chapters focusing
on agriculture, agrarian reform, environment and natural resources. A Philippine
Plan for Gender-Responsive Development 1995-2025 is being prepared under
the leadership of the NCRFW in coordination with the National Economic Development
Authority (NEDA). The NCRFW also established WID/Gender and Development
(GAD) focal points and undertook gender sensitivity training in various
line agencies. Efforts are underway to establish a data base on women.
WID Units or Focal Points in Technical Ministries
WID/GAD focal points were established in 1989 in the Department of Agriculture,
the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources, to serve as the primary structure for the implementation
of the Philippine Development Plan for Women and to serve as catalysts for
gender-responsive planning and programming in their respective line ministries.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
WID/GAD advocates in the NGO movement have made efforts, particularly since
the early 1990s, to set up women's desks and develop a WID/GAD strategy.
One result was a increase in women beneficiaries in rural projects funded
by one international donor. Most of these project involve hog raising, food
and fish processing and marketing, and other small-scale agricultural enterprises.
Since 1986, the NCRFW has promoted cooperation between the Government (GO)
and the NGO community. In 1992 a Women GO-NGO Network was established.
The Philippines has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The Philippine Constitution of 1987 recognizes the fundamental equality
of women and men and the New Family Code of 1987 affirms women's right to
own property and to contract employment and credit without the need of their
husbands' consent. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 guarantees
equal rights to land ownership, equal shares of the farm's produce, and
representation in advisory or appropriate decision-making bodies to qualified
women of the agricultural work force. Legislation of 1990 mandates the establishment
of day care centres in every village to free women for other activities
such as farming or attending extension and other meetings. The Women in
Development and Nation Building Act of 1992 provides equal access to resources,
including credit and training. It also requires the allocation of a substantial
portion of Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds to support programmes
and activities for women.
These laws, however, have yet to be fully implemented. In the case of
the Women in Development and National Building Act, mechanisms and systems
have yet to be developed and established for allocating and monitoring ODA
funds for women. In the case of agrarian reform, as of 1992, 87% of the
redistributed land went to men and only 13% to women. At the higher levels
of the agrarian reform decision-making bodies, women hold only about 5%
of the positions and at the village level about 20%.
This can be attributed to the lack of awareness by men and women of
women's legal rights in regard to access to resources and membership in
decision-making bodies. Gender-awareness sessions do not usually deal with
women's legal rights.
Dimensions and determinants of rural poverty
The economic crisis
of the country persists although in muted form.
The foreign debt rose from $24 million in the mid-1980s to $28.9 million
in 1990. Budget and trade deficits were approximately $1.5 billion in the
early 1990s. Inflation continued at about 18% in the early 1990s. The incidence
of rural families living in poverty was 56% in 1991. Increasing rural poverty
has resulted in migration
to urban areas. Malnutrition
about 14% of children under six in 1989/90 and is more widespread among
Access to agricultural resources and services
According to the 1990 Census of Population Housing, 55.2% of households
were landless, while 25% of households had agricultural land. Slightly more
female-headed households than male-headed ones owned land. However, under
the agrarian reform programme, only 13% of redistributed land went to women.
Men tend to have responsibility for water buffalo and cattle, while women
are more involved in pig and poultry raising. Data collection is needed
Only about 1% of the persons employed in agriculture are engaged in forestry.
There is a gender division of labour in forestry activities: women predominate
in the tasks of vegetative contouring, planting and establishing trees,
weeding, caring for trees, and selling produce in the market.
Water. Data collection needed.
Bank-managed credit, mainstream farming and fishing credit programmes are
usually directed to men, as are agricultural production loans from NGO donors.
A number of NGOs and NGO projects target small loans to women. The women
recipients of such small-scale credit schemes tend to use the loans for
small livestock raising, marketing produce, or operating a home industry.
Extension services and agricultural training
Women comprised about 6% of the participants in training activities conducted
by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in 1993. The figure was highest
(15%) for day training and lowest (3%) for on-farm research. The classification
by the ATI of participants as "housewives" or RIC (all-women Rural
Improvement Clubs) suggests that other participants (farmers and fishers)
are assumed to be men. Rural women's contact is greatest with agricultural
technicians who were formerly known as home management technicians.
Selected programmes in support of women in agriculture, fisheries and
Policy Planning and Research
- A Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development 1995-2025 is being
prepared under the leadership of the NCRFW in coordination with the National
Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
- WID/Gender and Development (GAD) focal points have been established
in government line agencies by the NCRFW.
- Gender sensitivity training has been undertaken in various line agencies
by the NCRFW.
- Many NGOs involved in funding and implementing projects have made efforts
to sensitize decision makers, planners, designers and field implementors
to gender issues and to establish monitoring systems that differentiate
by gender, project beneficiaries and the distribution of project resources.
- A pilot Provincial Agricultural Extension Project, implemented by the
Department of Agriculture to draft a community agricultural sector plan,
involved a significant number of women and devised a number of strategies
for including women, such as: identifying women's specific agricultural
needs in the plan, specifying how women would be involved in or benefit
from general agricultural activities, and, to a lesser extent, a separate
- A number of NGOs are carrying out gender awareness programs for rural
men and women.
- The Women in Rice Farming Systems Network is advocating scientists to
orient their technologies towards women as well as men users.
Legal and Policy Reform
The Women in Nation Building Act of 1992 provides for the allocation of
a substantial portion of ODA funds to support activities for women. As of
May 1993, it is estimated that 18% of ODA funds has been earmarked for projects
that aimed to integrate women in their activities or had women's components.
Access to Agricultural Resources and Services
- Government and NGO credit schemes, based on the Grameen Bank experience
in Bangladesh, have helped bring credit to landless people and have benefited
- GAD advocacy within the National Confederation of Cooperatives has resulted
in a pilot project to enhance women's participation in cooperatives, including
gender awareness building within the leadership of cooperatives.
- A number of projects or project components are directed to increasing
women's access to agricultural resources and services.
Areas to be strengthened
Policy Planning and Research
- WID/GAD focal points should be strengthened by improving their status
in the line agencies and increasing the gender advocacy competence of focal
- Sector-specific GAD guidelines need to be developed, to complement the
general GAD guidelines, to help the Government assess the gender-responsiveness
of projects or programmes.
- Policies and instructional/training materials should be reviewed to
make them more gender sensitive.
- Food security should be given greater importance than export-oriented
cash crop production.
Legal and Policy Reform
- Legislation should be enacted to recognize rural women as farmers and
fisherfolk and ensure the right of women peasants and agricultural workers
to own land and have access support services.
- Leadership and assertiveness training should be conducted for women
and information should be disseminated on women's rights.
Access to Agricultural Resources and Services
- A systematic monitoring system needs to be established by the government
to ascertain how much ODA is going to projects or activities that address
- Environmental reconstruction programs should be adopted to generate
sustainable development in terms of the creation of economic activities
for women, and to eliminate environmental destruction which specifically
affects women as providers of food, water and fuel.
- Women's organizations should be activated or established with a view
to increasing women's access to resources and services.
- Women's participation in cooperatives should be promoted.
- Women's groups should be established in Agrarian Reform Communities.
- Agricultural technicians should be made more aware of the needs of women
farmers for technical assistance.
- Gender awareness training and discussions should be held for both women
Prepared by Women in Development Service (SDWW)
FAO Women and Population Division
Source: "National Sectoral Report on Women, Agriculture and Rural
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