The Gender of Successful Development: Women's Words and Dairying Work in Gujarat, India

By:
Dr. Pratyusha Basu
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The town of Anand in Gujarat has become synonymous with successful development internationally, and Anand-pattern cooperatives are the national model for dairy development in India. Yet, the role of women in enabling the production of successful dairy development has yet to be carefully understood. Existing studies either (a) adopt the ecofeminist framework which views dairy development as marginalizing women’s knowledge of dairying in favor of more technocratic approaches (George, 1985; Shiva, 1988), or (b) adhere to a liberal feminist perspective where the presence of women in dairying is automatically celebrated as evidence of their empowerment (World Bank, 1998).

This paper seeks to question both these approaches by drawing on feminist criticisms of development (Mies, 1982; Jackson, 1993; Gururani, 2002), in order to understand the divergences between official meanings of women’s roles in dairy development and the local meanings attached by women to their work. Based on household surveys, individual interviews, and participant observation in a village that is viewed as a highly successful instance of dairy development in Anand district, this paper seeks to show that the gendered meanings of dairying as articulated by women are riven with contradictions — since they seemingly seek to strengthen women’s ability to participate in rural livelihoods by discursively truncating the range of meanings that can be attached to women’s work. Thus, even as dairying is both agricultural and domestic work, women insist that they do not participate in agriculture, but also stress the role of land ownership in profitable dairying.

This paper will explicate such statements to argue that women’s words have to be viewed as (a) strategic, acceding to and challenging both patriarchal limits and official representations, even as they are also (b) material, arising in part from the intersection of gender with class and caste identities.


Keywords: Gender, Rural Livelihoods, Rural Development, Dairying, India
Stream: Sociology and Geography, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Gender of Successful Development, The


Dr. Pratyusha Basu

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, NES 107
4202 East Fowler Avenue, University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida 33543, USA

Pratyusha Basu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of South Florida, Tampa, USA. She obtained her Ph.D. in Geography in 2003 from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA. Her research is located at the intersections of rural, environmental, and gender issues in India. In her dissertation, she sought to understand the success of India’s cooperative dairying program from the perspective of village-level participants in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The use of a comparative framework and ethnographic field methods enabled an understanding of the role of place in the construction of local meanings of dairy development, as well as the divergence of such local meanings from official representations of ‘success’ and ‘failure.’ This research was supported by funding from the Social Science Research Council and the National Science Foundation in 2000-2001. She has also worked with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, an anti-dam social movement in India, and in this context is especially interested in how the movement combines transnational environmentalism and national agrarian politics in order to build broad-based support. Currently she is extending her interests in rural development by studying the role of information technology in agricultural livelihoods, and this research was partly supported in 2005 by an Anne U. White Award from The Association of American Geographers.

Ref: I06P0067