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Questions de genre en zones sèches: Les femmes, actrices de la lutte contre la désertification


The economic and social organization of rural societies has a high level of gender differentiation in terms of rights, activities
and responsibilities. This interacts with other aspects of social stratification based on factors such as ethnicity, statutory groups, religion and level of wealth. Consequently, women do not represent a homogeneous category, but a group whose interests are sometimes conflicting and which are equally subject to power relations. Some observations:

• The sexual division of labour is universal, but varies from one society to another as well as over time. Women are often assigned to jobs (such as unpaid domestic work) that are accorded less value both socially and economically.
• The organization of work is only marginally based on the strictly physical capacities of men and women. More so it arises from complex interactions between diverse family models, technoeconomic transformation, and power relations within a society. For example, a so-called ‘women’s’ activity may begin to interest men as a result of technological change or an increase in market value.
• Quantifying the activities of women in rural areas is difficult due to their relative invisibility in statistics and surveys. These are often restricted to collecting data on the head of the household or farm and include few of the economic activities – market or non-market – that women are involved in. Women often work more hours than men, and they have a larger share of non-commercial activities.
• In relation to men, women have fewer access rights to resources, both tangible (e.g. property, money) and intangible (e.g.
consideration, representation in decision-making bodies, educational level).
• Gender also influences access to natural resources – land, water, trees, etc. The disparity between men and women can be partly explained by unequal modes of transmission of the rights to these resources.

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