Are women and men equal in agriculture in Thailand?
‘There is nobody saying that the women cannot do anything’, says Ms La-ead Tana, a farmer from Nan Province in Thailand. ‘Everybody accepts the equality of the men and the women.’
In a video interview produced by the World Agroforestry Centre, Tana outlines how women and men in her sub-district perform the same tasks, such as site preparation, planting, weeding and applying pesticides. But she describes women as the administrators, saying that they, ‘know how many crops should be grown and where to grow them in an area’.
‘Women are the ones who give the orders and plan where to plant. The men then follow what the women tell them.’
Tana does not believe there is any inequality in Bua Yai Sub-district and that villages have accepted that women’s roles are equal to those of men’s.
The equality experienced in Bua Yai may not be a reflection of gender roles across Thailand. In 2011, Thailand was ranked 69 out of 146 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s Gender Inequality Index.
A study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations into gender roles and use of technology found that while women in Thailand were generally involved in all aspects of agricultural production, it is the men who dominate mechanized tasks. Women were found to have significantly reduced access to resources, such as inputs, funds or credit, seeds, breeds and plant varieties as well as information and knowledge.
Tana does acknowledge that in the past, the roles of the women in the development of the sub-district were not visible and women were not selected to be leaders of villages or sub-districts. Now, she says, ‘we have female leaders as heads of villages and members of the sub-district administrative office senate’.
Researchers from the International Rice Research Institute who studied gender equity in agriculture in Southeast Asia found that women in Thailand were active members of village and agricultural organizations and had direct contact with extension officers.
The interview with Tana is one of 13 produced by the World Agroforestry Centre, involving farmers and researchers from Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Viet Nam discussing land-use problems in their countries and the role agroforests plays in solving them.
The series of films give an insight into how farmers from across the Mekong region have been motivated to practise agroforestry and the many benefits they derive from it.
This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry