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140 RUTH MEINZEN-DICK, JULIA BEHRMAN, PURNIMA MENON, AND AGNES QUISUMBING


• A study from the International Labour Organization indicates that women workers in plantations often receive less training and instruction regarding the application of agrochemicals than male counterparts (Loewenson 2000).


Plantation systems may also have important environmental impacts with gender


dimensions. Discharge of pollutants may damage the quality of local soil and water. The demand for water to sustain large-scale agricultural production will likely com- pete with water needed for food production, livestock, and domestic consumption. Women are typically responsible for collecting water and fuel, and may be forced to seek out less reliable and more distant sources. In addition, women often make use of wild-growing plant species for household consumption, and these varieties may be reduced by monoculture plantations. Although many of these environmental problems may also occur with other commercial monocropping systems, they are particularly problematic in plantations because of the scale of such systems, and the fact that those who make decisions about production may not be those most affected by the decisions. In sum, the nutrition and health impacts of large farms and plantations are


largely determined by their effect on household incomes of farm workers and by their environmental externalities, and these impacts affect women and men differ- ently. While many case studies give cause for concern, fair trade and corporate social responsibility provide a basis for positive outcomes. A notable example is the fair- trade export of cut flowers from Kenya and Tanzania to Norway, which provides high levels of female-dominated employment, equal contracts for men and women (including maternity and paternity leave), safety standards, and social engagement.


Recommendations Large-scale agricultural operations can avoid disadvantaging women and com- munities by being gender-aware as well as by observing environmental safeguards.


• Ensure that employment opportunities—including task allocation, hours worked, wages, and promotion possibilities—are gender equitable.


• Provide appropriate and affordable healthcare and childcare facilities.


• Ensure that new technologies—such as mechanization, new crops and varieties, inorganic fertilizer, and pesticides—are introduced in a gender-sensitive manner.


• Provide appropriate safety equipment and training to both female and male laborers.


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