Beyond the (Dis)Empowerment Binary: Inevitability and the Feminization of Agriculture in Chitwan, Nepal
Changing demands of the agricultural sector, due to male out-migration, have been shown to influence power dynamics and livelihood strategies within households, communities, and broader society. These shifts have led to a rise in women’s agricultural engagement in Nepal. In hypothesizing the outcomes of what has been defined as the feminization of agriculture on the women left behind, the existing literature has created a (dis)empowerment binary. Based on field work conducted in Chitwan, we initially confirm that women do experience that increased agricultural engagement presents both the potential for an increased burden and an opportunity for empowerment. Our research then goes beyond this binary, by utilizing the concept of inevitability, revealing both the micro and macro level nexi of migration, agriculture, and gender in relation to the feminization of agriculture in Nepal. By underscoring the double inevitability of both male out-migration itself and women’s roles within their households we argue we can more accurately represent our informants’ lived realities and thereby provide an alternative to the (dis)empowerment binary for future research. This includes the recognition of a relational nature of the feminization of agriculture phenomenon, which is often overlooked in the current discourse.
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