Rica and the Rolled-out Periuk: Lessons from Incorporating GESI Perspective in Livelihood Analysis in Sumatera, Indonesia
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Community and household are often perceived as what Elmhirst (2015) called ‘arenas of assumed common interest’, which think that the impact of development activities should be the same for community as a whole, and for all household members. However, this cannot be the case as the social-economic factors and the access and control over resources differentiate the households within a community as well as the women and men within a household. Based on observations from qualitative researches in two rural communities in Sumatera, this article aims at giving a critical analyses on the impact of development (income generating) activities to the livelihood strategy of different households, using gender empowerment and social inclusion (GESI) perspective. Both communities develop their livelihood strategy in the agriculture frontier landscape. The income generating activities are cultivation of coffee as cash crop for household income and growing seedlings in tree nursery for forest farmers’ group. It was observed that both activities add more work-burden for women than men. Among women, women of betteroff households perceived the activity as social responsibility whereas to women of poor households the social responsibility is coupled with real loss of economic opportunity. In the process, women’s productive activities is put secondary to those of households and community, although their productive activities bring a small but continual income that sustain poor households’ subsistence as well as strengthening resiliency. Incorporating GESI perspective in livelihood analysis, therefore, is crucial not only to reveal the intraand inter-household dynamics, but also to highlight the important contributions of women in household economy and in the overall livelihood strategy. In doing so, this GESI perspective corrects the biased assumption in development program about the community’s common interest.
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