Unseen Hands: Women's Farm Work in an Egyptian Village

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Social Research Center (SRC)

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Lucie Wood Saunders, Sohair Mehenna

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

The George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research

Publication Date

Summer 1-7-1986




Data drawn from questionnaires, censuses, and interviews conducted in a village in the Egyptian Delta with a high proportion of smallholders, are compared to show ways women's work in agriculture reflected changes in local economic conditions from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. During these years, women's participation decreased in agricultural labor and increased in animal husbandry, as the village economy expanded. Also at issue is the extent of rural women's participation in production, which seems to be undercounted in national statistics. Factors suggested for women's underreporting of agricultural activity include the seasonality and occasional character of women's work in agriculture, the low prestige of women's work in cultivation, and the inclusion of cultivation as an aspect of women's roles as wives and daughters.

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