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“GENDER CHALLENGES” A three volume compendium of selected papers (Oxford University Press, India: 2016)
Author: Bina Agarwal

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This three-volume compendium brings together a selection of the author’s path-breaking essays on agriculture, property rights, and the environment, written over the last three decades. Combining diverse disciplines, methodologies and cross-country comparisons, the essays both challenge and illuminate standard economic assumptions from a gender perspective. The essays provide original insights on a wide range of theoretical, empirical, and policy issues of continuing importance in contemporary debates.

Volume 1 spans the author's writings on agrarian change since 1981. It identifies gender inequalities in the impact of technical change in agriculture in Asia and Africa; the links between women, poverty, and economic growth processes; the statistical undercounting of women's work; and the key role of women farmers in food security. It also offers innovative institutional solutions as ways forward.

Volume 2 focuses on the author's paradigm-shifting work on women's property status in South Asia. It demonstrates the key importance of promoting access to property, especially land, for women's economic empowerment; details gender inequalities in inheritance laws, public policies, and land struggles; and presents the bargaining framework for understanding and overcoming these inequalities.

Volume 3 traces the relationship between gender and environmental change. Critiquing ecofeminism, it outlines an alternative theoretical framework. Also, based on the author's fieldwork on community forest governance, it demonstrates how a critical mass of women can significantly improve conservation. Finally, the author reflects on which features of feminist scholarship make for an effective challenge to mainstream economics.

GENDER AND GREEN GOVERNANCE (Oxford University Press, Oxford.)
Author: Bina Agarwal

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Economists studying environmental collective action and green governance have paid little attention to gender. Research on gender and green governance in other disciplines has focused mainly on women's near absence from forestry institutions. This interdisciplinary book turns that focus on its head to ask: what if women were present in these institutions? What difference would that make?

Would women's inclusion in forest governance undeniably important for equity also affect decisions on forest use and outcomes for conservation and subsistence? Are women's interests in forests different from men's? Would women's presence lead to better forests and more equitable access? Does it matter which class of women governs? And how large a presence of women would make an impact? Answers to these questions can prove foundational for effective environmental governance. Yet they have hardly been empirically investigated. In an analysis that is conceptually new and statistically rigorous, using the author's primary data from India and Nepal on community forestry institutions, this book is the first major study to comprehensively address these wide-ranging issues


Editors: Bina Agarwal and Alessandro Vercelli

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Economics has paid rather little attention to the psychological aspects of economic behaviour, leading to somewhat simplistic assumptions about human nature. The psychological aspects have typically been reduced to assumptions of standard utility theory based on a very narrow conception of rationality, often called “substantive rationality”. However, recent work, some theoretic, some based on experimental economics or empirical analysis of existing data, challenges these assumptions. It demonstrates that we cannot understand the behaviour of economic agents without focusing on the psychological determinants of their decisions, especially in an increasingly complex and knowledge-based economy. This also requires a less restrictive concept of rationality. The essays in this volume provide a glimpse of this challenging and newly emerging field.

Also published (without Sen’s original writings) under the title Amartya Sen’s Work and Ideas: A Gender perspective (London: Routledge), 2005.
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Editors: Bina Agarwal, Jane Humphries and Ingrid Robeyns
This volume is the first to examine Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s ideas through the lens of gender. Renowned for his humanitarian approach to economics, Sen’s contributions have been crucial to the development of several aspects of feminist economics and gender analysis. The book is meant both as a tribute to Sen and as a contribution to scholarship and future research on gender. It both builds on Sen’s ideas and engages with them critically. It outlines the range and usefulness of his work for gender analysis while also exploring some of its silences and implicit assumptions.

The essays cover major topics in Sen's work, such as the capability approach, freedom, social choice, justice, agency, “missing women”, and development and well-being. Perspectives are drawn from both developing and developed countries, with most of the authors applying Sen's concepts to cultural, geographic and historical contexts which differ from his original applications.

Significant highlights include a wide-ranging conversation between the book's editors and Sen on many aspects of his work, and an essay by Sen himself on why he is disinclined to provide a definitive list of capabilities. The volume also contains some of Sen’s original writings, as ready references to be read in conjunction with the contributed essays.

A FIELD OF ONE’S OWN: GENDER AND LAND RIGHTS IN SOUTH ASIA (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (CUP), 1994. CUP South Asian edition, 1995. Reprinted 1996, 1998).

Author: Bina Agarwal
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Economic analysis and policies concerning women have long been preoccupied with employment. This book argues that the single most important economic factor affecting women's situation is the gender gap in command over property.

Women's direct ownership and control of land can be crucial for enhancing their well-being, their bargaining power within and outside the household, and their overall empowerment. And it can have wide-ranging implications for poverty alleviation and production efficiency. In particular, the book outlines the effects of a lack of control over land and property on the lives and livelihoods of women across South Asia. It examines the property rights women enjoyed historically, traces changes over time, and their rights under contemporary law. It analyses the factors underlying a gap between law and practice and between nominal ownership and effective control. It examines forms of women’s covert and overt resistance. And it spells out alternative scenarios and policy options that could facilitate women gaining effective rights in land and other property.

Covering five countries - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka - in a bold sweep of comparative, interdisciplinary scholarship, the book brings to the analysis originality, rigour and complex historical, legal, socio-economic, and cultural perspectives. It draws on economic, ethnographic, historical, political, and legal sources; the author's fieldwork in north and northeast India; and extensive field visits and interviews in all five countries. The theoretical and analytical issues addressed here have relevance much beyond South Asia.

Widely used by academics, activists and policy makers globally, and variously described by reviewers as “a tour-de-force of inter-disciplinarity (The Economic Journal), “a brilliant and exhaustive work” (The Sociological Bulletin), and “the product of great erudition” (Health Transition Review), the book has won several international and national awards. LINKS

(London: Zed Books; Delhi: Allied Publishers; Maryland: Riverdale Publishers, 1986. Repr 1988).

Author: Bina Agarwal

With depleting forests and rapidly shrinking supplies of firewood and charcoal, a vast section of the Third World population, still dependent primarily on such woodfuels for its domestic needs, faced a severe crisis by the 1980s. Drawing upon evidence from Asia, Africa and Latin America, this book analyzes the scale of this other energy crisis, its complex causes, and its consequences, both at the individual level for the millions who rely on woodfuels, and overall for the ecological and agricultural systems of these countries. The solutions being offered for its alleviation are also critically examined.

The author finds that most attempts by governments and international agencies to promote afforestation and improved wood-burning stoves as solutions had little success. In particular, few reached or benefited the rural poor who were the principal sufferers of woodfuel shortages. Why did these efforts fail? The book provides several pointers. Within the wider political economy context, it questions whether truly effective solutions to the crisis are possible without measures to reduce existing socio-economic (especially land-based) inequalities; and without economic policies oriented to a more energy-efficient and ecologically sustainable form of development. The book also contributes to the debate on factors affecting the diffusion of rural innovations.

(Delhi: Allied Publishers, 1983; reprinted 1986).

Author: Bina Agarwal

Located within the debate on choice of technique in agriculture, this book, based on careful empirical analysis, examines the possible ways by which the mechanization of agriculture in a labor surplus economy such as India, can lead to a conflict between the twin objectives of higher output and higher employment.

Agricultural mechanization, it is argued here, is essentially a mixed package. Since different farm operations and crops lend themselves to different degrees and forms of mechanization, the implications are likely to vary by technique, operation and crop. Unlike most existing studies which confined themselves to the impact, principally of tractors, on total farm output and employment, this study, through a detailed statistical analysis of cost of production data, disaggregates the output and employment implications of tractors, tubewells and threshers by crop and operation, and by the ownership and hire of equipment, for different farm size groups. The employment effect is further separated by family, permanent and casual labor; and a new index of cropping intensity, based on the time duration of crops, is specified. The book's disaggregative and innovative approach and rigorous empirical analysis is a significant point of departure from previous studies and leads to quite different policy conclusions.

(London: Zed Books; Delhi: Kali for Women, 1988; reprinted in paperback 1990).

Editor: Bina Agarwal

Is State-directed development gender-neutral? The essays in this volume indicate otherwise. They trace the complex and often interlinked ways in which the state, the community and the household both structure and are structured by male bias. Mostly focused on contemporary developments, the volume examines the gender impact of agricultural growth strategies in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India and China; export-oriented industrialization in Southeast Asia; the new population policies in Malaysia and Singapore; and the rise of religious fundamentalism in Iran and elsewhere. These diverse themes are analytically woven together in the book's detailed introduction that also provides a comparative international perspective. It shows how the state, the community and the household can be seen as interacting structures embodying pulls and pressures which may, at specific junctures and in different country contexts, converge or move in contradictory directions, in the latter case providing spaces for building countervailing resistance.

(London: Macmillan Press, 1991).

Editors: Nancy Folbre, Barbara Bergmann, Bina Agarwal and Maria Floro

The essays in this volume (selected from papers presented at the International Economic Association Congress in Athens, 1989) examine the nature of gender bias in public policies and its effect on women's work in the labor market and at home, in both developing and developed countries. The topics explored include the feminization of poverty, tax disincentives and women's labor force participation, and the penalties of part-time work, in a diverse range of countries such as Pakistan, Japan, East Germany and the United States.

(London: Macmillan Press, 1989).

Editors: Haleh Afshar and Bina Agarwal

Poverty makes it necessary for all household members to engage in income-generating work. But prevailing ideologies and social norms may demand a rigid gender division of labor, emphasize motherhood and domesticity for women, and confine them to specific activities within circumscribed spaces. Poor women can thus be faced with conflicting choices between survival needs and social status within the community.

Based on experiences from South and Southeast Asia, this book examines such possible contradictions between the economic interests of women in poor Asian households and prevailing gender ideologies and associated cultural practices. As the case studies show, women experience this conflict in greater degree in South Asian countries than in those of Southeast Asia, and resolve the conflict in different ways.