Enhanced Gender Inclusion and Collaboration in Rural Pakistan : A Place-based Approach

  • Sajida Taj

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

    Abstract

    This research examines and compares the participatory place-based and commodity focused approaches to Agricultural Value Chain Development (AVCD) and effect of these approaches in enhancing gender inclusion and collaboration at household and community levels in rural Punjab, Pakistan. Despite the fact, gender inclusion and collaboration has gained more attention in the development agenda and there is increasing evidence that participatory, holistic, place-based and multi-disciplinary approaches have become vital in establishing successful, gender inclusive Agricultural Value Chain Development (AVCD) policies, programs and interventions. Research in Pakistan, however, suggests that traditional AVCD approaches over the years have ignored women and marginal groups of both genders. Most of the traditional, commodity-focused Value Chain Development (VCD) interventions and initiatives target skills and competencies development for progressive male farmers. Rural women and men from small farming households in Pakistan are either obtaining agricultural knowledge from informal sources or remain knowledge-poor, leading to low productivity. This widens the gender gap, lowers gender collaboration, and increases poverty in rural households. This research study brings together the literature about the gender inclusion in AVCD and its relation to gender collaboration at household and community levels. The study is first of its type to examine and compare gender inclusive—place-based and traditional commodity focused approaches to AVCD in rural Pakistan. Furthermore, it investigates to what extent each approach to AVCD has contributed to gender inclusion, empowerment and collaboration in rural Punjab, Pakistan. The study also identified related VCD activities and learning transfer systems that facilitate women and poor groups’ engagement in VCD interventions. A concurrent mixed method approach was used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data from 112 small farming households in three districts from Punjab, Pakistan. Two villages (Village 1 & Village 2) from two districts were selected with different AVCD approach i.e. pilot place-based and commodity focused approach and one village (Village 3) from the third district was selected as control village for the comparison purposes. The data were collected at two points, before and after the project interventions in each village, making this longitudinal research in its nature. The quantitative data collected through a household survey and both head of household and spouse of the household head were interviewed separately. Thus, making a sample of 224 respondents with equal gender distribution. While, Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) with male and female respondents were carried out to collect qualitative data. The reason for combining both quantitative and qualitative methods is that they obtain different, but complementary data on the same topic enabling a more comprehensive understanding of the research question. SPSS 23 software was used to enter and analyse the quantitative data. The key findings show ‘participatory and focused gender inclusion through place-based community engagement approach was more effective and gender inclusive than the commodity focused approach. The key feature was the participatory process embedded in the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) principles, which used participatory action research, built trust in the community as well as in the project teams. Establishing a neutral, safe and convenient learning place in V1 became a key change in women’s lives that provided a platform to engage with diverse, agricultural value addition as well as non-farm skills training over the short-term. As a result, women’s collaboration with their male counterparts in decision-making for the family and farm improved over time in V1. While, limited engagement of the women was observed in the commodity-focused approach and women lost their interest and trust. No significant changes were observed in the control village where no interventions were conducted. This research contributes new understanding about the participatory place-based AVCD to strengthen participation of small holder farmers of both genders in Pakistan, and how it impacts gender empowerment and collaboration. The research study also contributes to the academic discourse on gender inclusion, participatory AVCD, and its impact in rural communities. Specifically, it deepens our understanding of the focused inclusion through a participatory approach and the role of active participation as a determinant in gender empowerment and collaboration.
    Date of Award2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Canberra
    SupervisorRobert Fitzgerald (Supervisor), Sandra Heaney-Mustafa (Supervisor) & John Spriggs (Supervisor)

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