Handbook of Rural Development

Handbook of Rural Development

Elgar original reference

Edited by Gary Paul Green

Although most countries in the world are rapidly urbanizing, the majority of the global population – particularly the poor – continue to live in rural areas. This Handbook rejects the popular notion that urbanization should be universally encouraged and presents clear evidence of the vital importance of rural people and places, particularly in terms of environmental conservation. Expert contributors from around the world explore how global trends, state policies and grassroots movements affect contemporary rural areas in both developed and developing countries.

Chapter 10: Gender and rural development

Carolyn Sachs

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, development studies, economics and finance, agricultural economics, environment, agricultural economics, environmental sociology


Restructuring of employment opportunities in the rural US involves the precipitous decline in manufacturing employment and natural resource-related jobs in forestry and fisheries, the demise of agricultural employment, and an increase in service-related jobs. These shifts alter the gender composition of the rural workforce and call for new approaches to rural development. This chapter focuses primarily on the US, but also provides analysis of efforts related to gender and rural development in developing countries. The chapter begins by examining how restructuring of employment in the rural US and globally has impacted women and men. Second, the chapter explores how the push for entrepreneurship and small business development as a strategy for coping with the loss of traditional jobs in rural areas impacts women and men. Third, the chapter examines how women are affected by global changes in agriculture, both in large-scale commodity production and in smaller-scale enterprises. Fourth, the chapter addresses how changes in employment, the global economy and government cutbacks in services impacts women’s household and reproductive work. Finally, I assess how rural policies and gender mainstreaming offer the potential to address issues of gender equity and improving the lives of rural women. One striking change in the US is in the work patterns of men and women in rural areas. The decline in jobs for rural men in manufacturing, natural resources and agriculture pushed women into the workforce for the purpose of increasing income in their households (Falk and Lobao 2003).

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