Lecturer/Assistant Professor | University of Zambia
South East Asia

Rubber plantations and their implications on gender roles and relations in northern uplands Vietnam

Gender Equality

Focusing on the transformation of livelihoods after the creation of the rubber plantation in the Northern Uplands of Vietnam, this research analyses the gendered impact specifically.

References

Journal article: Rubber plantations and their implications on gender roles and relations in northern uplands Vietnam (2018)
Peer Reviewed
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About:

This empirical data collection used a qualitative approach, combining focus groups and interviews.

Interview based: Held group discussions and individual interviews. Often gender-segregated. However, there was a very regional specific; entirely focused on those people, their education level, culture and traditions. Results may be different elsewhere.

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Funding:

This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

Key points

  • Prior to the rubber plantation, divorces were extremely rare, after the plantation many felt they had to divorce their husbands due to their anti-social behaviour.

In recent years, rubber plantations have been strongly promoted in the northern uplands of Vietnam–especially in the northwest, where it is an ill agro-ecological fit–with an aim to improve ethnic minority livelihoods and to modernise peasants by transforming them into rubber workers. A large area of land has been taken away from farmers to make way for rubber plantations. This land acquisition and agrarian transformation have impacted local people and their livelihoods in various ways.

Drawing on ethnographic research, in combination with interviews with authorities and studying related documents, this research focuses on the gendered consequences of rubber plantation in northern uplands Vietnam.

Findings

  • The impact on men and women was extremely different.

    Women's role changed. Did not bind themselves with just domestic work which went against traditional practices. Often they started their own businesses or took up paid labour elsewhere.

  • A number of men often turned to drug and alcohol abuse, had overwhelming feelings of uselessness.

    Slipped further and further down society.

  • Divorce although being viewed as having positive connotations, related to increasing women's rights, often were experienced negatively in the village.

    Prior to the rubber plantation, divorces were extremely rare, after the plantation many felt they had to divorce their husbands due to their anti-social behaviour.

What it means

I argue that the process of becoming a rubber worker and adapting to the new way of living has indeed added new roles and responsibilities for women. At the same time, it has undermined men’s values and reshaped gender relations both within and outside the home.

The findings from this research would be applicable to different rubber plantations, palm oil, soy bean plantations etc, especially across China, India, and other countries in which land consolidation/land grab is taking place.

Plus any project which involves a transition from self-employment/land ownership to paid labour or government led development/modernisation projects which have private company involvement. Or national projects.

How to use

  • NGOs should incorporate this research into their strategies
  • When implementing development projects it is important to consider how much this changes local people's daily life
  • Consider the permanency of projects
  • Ensure that full, clear, and inclusive consultation sessions are held prior to project implementation
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Dao, Nga. 'Rubber plantations and their implications on gender roles and relations in northern uplands Vietnam'. Acume. https://www.acume.org/r/rubber-plantations-and-their-implications-on-gender-roles-and-relations-in-northern-uplands-vietnam/