Gender relations in agriculture: Food security, class and nutrition interventions in north-western Bangladesh

Crawford School of Public Policy
Photo by Nisith Tanny

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Thursday 12 May 2022


Acton Theatre and Zoom


Nishith Tanny Meeting ID: 833 6649 2999 Password: 934866

Policymakers and development practitioners often assume that enhancing production at the household level improves household and individual food and nutritional security. Feminist scholars emphasize integrating gender into agricultural development programs to achieve food and nutrition security. However, to date, the majority of studies on gendered food and nutritional security focus on the monetary indicators (income, consumption) and inadequately capture the non-monetary measures such as power dynamics within the household both as a measure and a factor contributing to food and nutritional well-being. This thesis draws on ethnographic and quantitative analyses undertaken across three villages in rural north-western Bangladesh where there are large numbers of chronically food-insecure households. The thesis argues that household economic well-being seldom guarantees food and nutrition for individual household members. Enhancing a woman’s decision-making and individual agency in agriculture is insufficient on its own. Household socio-economic conditions and the terms of engagement between spouses affect the capacity of agricultural interventions to improve the food security of the rural poor. Given the relatively unfavourable social condition of women, neither household socio-economic class, involvement in agriculture nor participation in agricultural interventions provides sufficient means of food and nutrition security. Women’s agency and control over labour and income and the terms of engagement between spouses affect the food security of rural women. It is the recognition of women’s contribution to agriculture and nutrition, principally through active participation in development programs that facilitate food and nutrition equality at the intra-household level. Finally the thesis argues for a more nuanced approach to food insecurity which includes examining how socio-economic structures impact women’s ability to exercise agency to become food and nutritionally secure.

Nishith Tanny is a faculty member at the Bangladesh Agricultural University. Currently, she is doing PhD at Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. She is the recipient of the prestigious ANU HDR Fee Merit Scholarship and University Research Scholarship. Her PhD research focuses on agrarian class relations, gender, nutrition interventions and food security. She published in the areas of gender and development and the adoption of improved farm practices by farmers.

Panel members: John McCarthy, Tamara Jacka, Jayne Curnow and Grant Walton

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