The Gender Asset Gap and Its Implications for Agricultural and Rural Development

  • Ruth Meinzen-DickEmail author
  • Nancy Johnson
  • Agnes R. Quisumbing
  • Jemimah Njuki
  • Julia A. Behrman
  • Deborah Rubin
  • Amber Peterman
  • Elizabeth Waithanji


Because gender differences in access, control, and use of assets are pervasive in the agricultural sector, agricultural development interventions are likely to have gender-differentiated impacts. This chapter proposes a conceptual framework to explore the potential linkages between gender, assets, and agricultural development projects in order to gain a better understanding of how agricultural development interventions may be expected to (positively or negatively) impact the gendered distribution of assets. It uses a broad definition of tangible and intangible assets—natural capital, physical capital, human capital, social capital, and political capital. The conceptual framework identifies linkages between the gendered distribution of assets and various livelihood strategies, shocks, and well-being, and discusses how agricultural development strategies may affect the gender asset gap. In addition, the framework explores the gendered pathways through which asset accumulation occurs, including attention to not only men’s and women’s assets but also those they share in joint control and ownership. Unlike previous frameworks, this model depicts the gendered dimensions of each component of the pathway in recognition of the evidence that men and women not only control, own, or dispose of assets in different ways, but also access, control, and own different kinds of assets.


Gender Assets Control and ownership Inequalities Conceptual framework Agricultural development 



This chapter is a revised version of a paper written for a research project on “Evaluating the Impacts of Agricultural Development Programming on Gender Inequalities, Asset Disparities, and Rural Livelihoods,” funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We thank Haven Ley for her support in conceptualizing the Gender, Assets, and Agricultural Program (GAAP) project as well as Jere Behrman, Cheryl Doss, Shelly Feldman, Susan Kaaria, Anirudh Krishna, Yvonne Pinto, and all the participants in the Nairobi inception workshop of the GAAP project for helpful comments and discussions. We thank Nicole Rosenvaigue for assistance with figures. All errors and omissions are ours.


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Copyright information

© Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Meinzen-Dick
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nancy Johnson
    • 2
  • Agnes R. Quisumbing
    • 3
  • Jemimah Njuki
    • 4
  • Julia A. Behrman
    • 5
  • Deborah Rubin
    • 6
  • Amber Peterman
    • 7
  • Elizabeth Waithanji
    • 8
  1. 1.Environment and Production Technology DivisionInternational Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)Washington, DCUSA
  2. 2.IFPRI, Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH)Washington, DCUSA
  3. 3.Poverty, Health, and Nutrition DivisionInternational Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)Washington, DCUSA
  4. 4.Senior Program OfficerInternational Development Research CenterNairobiKenya
  5. 5.Department of SociologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Cultural Practice, LLCBethesdaUSA
  7. 7.Department of Public PolicyUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  8. 8.International Livestock Research InstituteNairobiKenya

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