Worldwide, women play a key role in agriculture as growers, workers, and entrepreneurs, but almost everywhere, they face more severe constraints than men in accessing productive resources, markets, and services. One reason agriculture is underperforming in many developing countries is that women lack the resources necessary to work most efficiently. Their lack of access to resources reduces their productivity as well as their contributions to the agriculture sector and to the achievement of broader economic and social development goals (FAO, 2011).
Conventional belief dictates that household labor is divided equally between genders; i.e., men perform productive work, which includes but is not limited to wage labor, and women perform reproductive work, which includes household activities and child raising (Goldey et al., 1997). Moser (1993) stressed gender inequalities including 1) the multiple burdens women farmers bear arising from their ascribed “triple role” (farm activities, household work, and community involvement including bearing the responsibility of caring for children and elderly of the household), 2) intrahousehold dynamics, i.e., differences between families and households and unequal control over resources between genders, and 3) the heterogeneity of household structures, i.e., nonnuclear family.
Women in Development (WID) and Gender and Development (GAD) are two policy models which have described development and women (Momsen, 2004). These policy models are in use by development organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, to understand women’s contributions to agriculture in developing countries. Evidence supports that empowering women is highly conducive to increased agricultural productivity, food security, and nutrition (Meinzen-Dick and Quisumbing, 2013). Women in Development has viewed women as an untapped labor source but has failed to include women’s perspectives in planning and policymaking (Karl, 1995). Thus, WID-based policies address practical gender needs, i.e., “what women require to fulfill their roles and tasks” but fail to recognize strategic gender needs, i.e., “what women require to overcome their subordination.”
GAD-based policies focus not only on women, but also on “the structure and dynamics of gender relations” and “the totality of women’s and men’s lives” (Karl, 1995). Thus, the GAD construct has the aim of changing the “structures and process that give rise to women’s disadvantage” (Karl, 1995). The GAD model recognizes gender relationships and roles affecting development policies and projects and has acknowledged that women’s and men’s roles are social constructs.
Generally, women have had inadequate access to and control over economic resources such as land, labor, and capital, and to decision-making processes such as which crops to grow and where to market their products. Many development efforts have failed to consider this uneven access to resources based on gender roles, but reports by the Food and Agriculture Organization show that both governmental and nongovernmental organizations are taking steps to change this (FAO, 1997; FAO, 2011). National and international governing bodies are increasingly integrating gender concerns into policies. Some studies have conducted gender analyses to understand the differences by gender of economies, labor systems, resource allocations, and income. Several studies have pointed out the importance of considering gender roles in terms of intrahousehold distribution of labor, land relations, access and control of resources, and decision-making (Evers and Walters, 2000; Grown et al., 2000; Hansen and Vaa, 2004; Tsikata, 2009; Whitehead, 2002). Lu (2010) showed that gender interaction influences agrarian transition, health, and economic development.
Gender analysis is important because efficiency and productivity are increased when programs are targeted to the actual users (Nyakudya et al., 2006). A gender analysis of two private irrigation systems in Carchi, Ecuador, found that women’s participation in decision-making was impacted by such factors as children, age, health, and urban vs. rural background (Bastidas, 1999). With more information on actual users, program designers and policymakers can more effectively target their audience and not only improve the lives of users but also agricultural productivity in the region overall.
Agriculture is a major sector in the Turkish economy; one of four people is employed in the agricultural sector (Olhan, 2011). Although women in Turkey have important roles in the agricultural sector, they are not compensated equally; women are paid less than men in agricultural jobs (Davran and Tok, 2011; Ozkan et al., 2000). Previous research shows that the extension system in Turkey has underserved its female audience (Durutan, 1994; Klaver and Kamphuis, 2006).
Kiernan et al. (2012) found that agricultural education in the United States has previously also underserved women farmers, stating in her study of programs for women farmers in Pennsylvania that “women farmers found educational programs in agriculture unwelcoming, if not hostile. Participants and instructors did not take women seriously. Unidirectional learning from ‘experts’ predominated with little opportunity for hands-on learning. Educational programs focused heavily on a scale of farming that many women did not practice (large operations with single commodities such as swine, beef, dairy, agronomic crops, and turf grass). Agricultural education lacked a focus on women’s farms that are characterized by limited acreage; production of vegetables, fruits, cheese, or flowers; diverse herds; use of alternative marketing strategies; and organic and sustainable practices” (Kiernan et al., 2012).
In Turkey, as in many developing countries, women play an important role, but social and economic structures in Turkey allow for social and economic inequality between genders. This has happened despite the secular characteristic of the Republic of Turkey and the fact that women have equal rights under the law, and equally inherent property and land. In 2009, the illiteracy rate in Turkey was 8%, with women representing 80% of the illiterate population. Two-thirds of illiterate women in Turkey were over 50 years of age, which may indicate that education for women in Turkey is improving (Uysal-Kolasin and Guner, 2010).
The practice of growing food crops, especially horticultural crops, and tending small livestock has emerged as a critical element in food security, and a gender analysis of 91 farms in Sierra Leone found that female-managed farms had higher gross and net returns than male-managed farms (Idowu et al., 2012). Although women make substantial contributions to vegetable production systems in Turkey, no definitive studies on the division of labor between women and men on Turkish vegetable greenhouses have been published. Vegetables produced in greenhouses (glass or plastic) are cash crops in Turkey, the major greenhouse vegetable crops being tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), eggplants (Solanum melongena), cucumbers (Cucumis sativus), and peppers (Capsicum annuum). Greenhouses provide many advantages over field-grown vegetables, including higher crop returns and year-round production (Yilmaz et al., 2005).
The primary objective of our study was to investigate the gender situation in greenhouse vegetable production in the Antalya Province of Turkey. We selected Antalya as the target research area of this study because it is the center of Turkish greenhouse vegetable production. Antalya accounts for 43% of all agricultural land under protective cover in Turkey (TUIK, 2015), and produces 20% of Turkey’s exported fruits and vegetables (Olhan, 2011). Antalya Province was also the highest or second highest producer of nine of Turkey’s top 22 vegetables cultivated for their fruit in 2015, including staple crops such as table tomatoes, eggplants, table cucumbers, and bell peppers (TUIK, 2015). The specific aims of the study were to 1) characterize the sample with demographic information, 2) identify existing gender roles in vegetable farming systems to determine how women’s and men’s labor was valued, and 3) explore the effects of various factors on women’s ability to make production decisions independently. We expected to find more demands on women’s time, more constraints on women’s abilities to access and control resources related to production, and some significant correlations between demographic variables and women’s ability to make key decisions about production. The information gathered in this study concerning differences in gender roles could be used to develop extension programs that address the needs of women farmers and improve the local agricultural system.
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