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


Nga Dao


Assistant Professor

York University

I am a broadly trained human-environment geographer and international development practioner/environmental activist with more than two decades of applied research experience.


Key Takeaways

    How To Apply Insights

    • NGOs should incorporate this research into their strategies. For example, writing letters to policymakers to influence decisions. Should argue for a deeper analysis of those who are affected. Can create a dialogue/discussion setting, including local people and the media; many villagers were not fully aware of the consequences of the rubber plantation and were often coerced into joining the plantation.
    • When implementing development projects it is important to consider how much this changes local people’s daily life. The villagers’ life and work patterns/division of labour have changed significantly. Rubber work is constant all year, whereas farming has seasons.
    • Consider the permanency of projects. Villagers had no option to back out of the rubber plant project or be able to regain their land back. Compensation was incredibly limited in relation to the long-term consequences.
    • Ensure that full, clear, and inclusive consultation sessions are held prior to project implementation. Often villagers were not listened to and they now suffer from poorly implemented projects.

    Findings & Research Conclusions

    Interestingly 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.

    Research's methodology

    Interview based: Held group discussions and individual interviews. Often gender-segregated.

    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.


    Very regional specific; entirely focused on those people, their education level, culture and traditions. Results may be different elsewhere.

    Reference this research

    Nga Dao (2018) Rubber plantations and their implications on gender roles
    and relations in northern uplands Vietnam, Gender, Place & Culture, 25:11, pp.1579-1600.

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