Jacqueline Ashby


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E-mail: j.ashby@cgiar.org

Institution: International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)


Dr Jacqueline Ashby is a Development Sociologist (PhD Cornell University) who has conducted research and published extensively on social ecology, participatory research and gender analysis applied to agricultural innovation and environmental conservation, with a focus on social stratification and poverty in rural development of low income countries. She currently coordinates the CGIAR Program responsible for gender analysis in research, and is Director of Research, Natural Resource Management at CIAT.

Title: Gender and Poverty: A proposal for Action Research.

Theme: 1E


Women constitute nearly sixty percent of the world’s one billion poor. Of one-third billion people living in absolute poverty, over seventy percent are women. Over the last two decades of the twentieth century, the number of women living in absolute poverty has risen by fifty percent (in contrast to thirty percent for men).

As the world population doubles the need for food will more than double, and world agricultural output per unit of labor will need to increase by a factor of ten, mostly in the Third World(Marris,1999). FAO estimates show that women account for more than half the labor required to produce the food consumed in the developing world. In Africa - where female farming is of paramount importance, nearly seventy percent of the staple food in the continent is produced by women farmers and is of increasing importance as more men migrate from rural areas in search of work (Saito et al.1990; World Bank 1989) This makes women in the Third World an important group not only as beneficiaries of poverty alleviation but as contributors to the economic growth required to end poverty.

The different roles, rights and resources that men and women have in society are an important determinant of the nature and scope of poverty.

This is especially (though not uniquely) the case among rural populations in the Third World, where there is a central relationship between the capacity of rural households to produce enough income or food year round to meet their basic nutritional needs and the control women have over inputs and outputs in the food production-to-consumption system.

This paper examines the dimensions of poverty and the relationship between gender and the poverty of rural people in the Third World. This analysis is applied to formulate a proposal for the application of science and technology to improving food production and environmental protection, an agenda of central importance to rural women in the Third World.

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