Front Cover
 Title Page
 Women in the formal plantation...
 Women in the informal plantation...
 Gender roles under a free labor...
 Women in the agricultural labor...
 Gender divisions of labor

Group Title: Conference on Gender Issues in Farming Systems Research and Extenion, University of Florida, February 26 to March 1, 1986
Title: Gender roles in Caribbean small scale agriculture
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00081688/00001
 Material Information
Title: Gender roles in Caribbean small scale agriculture
Series Title: Conference on Gender Issues in Farming Systems Research and Extenion, University of Florida, February 26 to March 1, 1986
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Momsen, Janet Henshall
Publisher: University of Florida
Publication Date: 1986
Subject: Farming   ( lcsh )
Agriculture   ( lcsh )
Farm life   ( lcsh )
University of Florida.   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00081688
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Title Page
        Page 1
    Women in the formal plantation economy
        Page 2
    Women in the informal plantation economy
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Gender roles under a free labor system
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Women in the agricultural labor force
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Gender divisions of labor
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
Full Text

S-- at the- 4Jr~nevrsOityvofr-f.on d
Conference on


Janet Henshall Momsen

University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Paper presented to Conference on
February 26 March 1, 1986
University of Florida.

Boserup (.1970) was the first to see the British Commonwealth Caribbean as

an anomolous region in terms of gender roles in agriculture. She suggested

that since Jamaica, as distinct from Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto

Rico, had a relatively high proportion of women farmers it was more like Africa

than Latin America according to her continental-scale regional classification.

Boserup explains this anomaly in ethnic terms relating it to the preservation

of African farming traditions among a population mainly descended from African

slaves (Boserup, 1970, 63). This hypothesis appears to contradict her basic

model in which patterns of gender roles in agriculture are seen as being

primarily the result of changes in population density and farming techniques

with cultural perceptions of such roles considered to be irrelevant. This essay

considers the Boserup hypothesis using evidence from both historical sources and

contemporary fieldwork.

The development of sugar plantations in the Caribbean in the seventeenth

century created a demand for labour which was met by the importation of slaves

from West Africa. By 1663 it was said that the very being of the plantations

depended on the supply of Negroes' (Williams, 1970, 136). At first male slaves

were more numerous but by the end of the eighteenth century the slave sex ratio

was in balance. The gender division of labour amongst these slaves was decided

not by slave memories of African traditions but by the European slave owners and

their traditions. Planters were aware that women worked in agriculture in Africa

and used this knowledge as justification for their utilization of female slaves

as field labourers in the West Indies. This role was accepted, above all, because

it was also the pattern of farm labour in England. There is strong evidence

that between 1690 and 1750 in England, there was little difference in male and

female participation in agricultural work: during that period it was said that

'gender differences appeared to be almost a matter of indifference to employers'.

(Snell, 1980).

Women in the 'formal' plantation economy

Within the complex occupational hierarchy of slavery, the position of the

woman slave was far less favourable than that of the male slave. William

Beckford (1788) wrote

'A Negro man is purchased either for a trade or the cultivation
and different processes of the cane the occupations of women
are only two, the house with its several departments and supposed
indulgences, or the field with its exaggerated labours.'

Apart from the midwife, doctoress or chief housekeeper and, to a lesser extent,

washerwomen, cooks and domestics, the slave elite consisted almost entirely of

men. For instance, on Roaring River Estate, Jamaica in 1756, of the ninety-two

female slaves, seventy were field workers, while of the eighty-four men only

twenty-eight were labouring in the cane fields. The gender division of labour

on Mesopotamia plantation in 1809 (Table 1) shows a similar pattern, with about

three-quarters of the women slaves but only one-third of the men working in the

fields. Although fieldhands performed the hardest labour, their living

conditions were far inferior to those of elite workers and, in consequence, they

experienced a higher death rate and suffered from greater ill-health than the

more privileged slaves. Pregnancy did not guarantee a lighter workload nor a

reduction in physical punishment. Throughout most of the period of slavery

women were expected to work in the fields until about six weeks before delivery

and return to work no later than three weeks after. The conflicting demands of

her reproductive and productive roles took a severe toll on the slave woman's

health. Gynaecological disorders were common and there is little doubt that the

harsh conditions of work contributed to the extremely low rate of natural increase

among slaves on West Indian sugar plantations.

Work in the fields was hard, monotonous and degrading and slaves gave their

labour unwillingly and inefficiently. The productivity rate was low and labour

was extracted through coercion. Women were subject to the same physical punish-

ments as men; under the overseer's whip 'neither age nor sex found any favour'.

Women were often regarded as more troublesome than men and during the later period

of slavery when there was abolitionist pressure to ameliorate conditions planters

opposed legislation forbidding the whipping of black women on the grounds that the

latter were 'notoriously insolent' and only kept in some 'tolerable order' through

fear of punishment. The privileges accorded male elite slaves were available to

most female slaves only through concubinage or 'the selling of sexual favours'.

The majority of women remained in the fields, working in harsh conditions and

maintained by their owners at bare subsistence level. In addition, unlike the

men, they had the dual burden of childcare and housework on top of their agri-

cultural work. As Levy points out (1980) in Barbados slave women in the fields

were expected to carry baskets of manure weighing as much as seventy pounds and

when they returned to their huts at night faced additional household duties.

Women in the 'informal' plantation economy

The cost of feeding a large slave labour force persuaded many planters to

allow peasant-like activities to develop. Mintz has shown that as early as 1672

in Jamaica, male and female slaves were cultivating subsistence plots at weekends

and slave women were involved in buying and selling the surplus production from

their provision grounds on Sunday mornings in public markets (Mintz, 1964, 25-51).

This growth of marginal production and internal trade within the plantation slave

economy with its concomitant gender division of labour occurred to varying degrees

on other West Indian islands, including Montserrat, Tobago, St. Vincent, Dominica,

Grenada, Barbados and St. Kitts, as well as in Jamaica (Edwards, 1980). Such was

the importance of the Sunday market to the entire population that the stringent

laws restricting the mobility of slaves were relaxed where marketing activities

were concerned. In a wider social context, the unusual mobility of market

women, in particular, enabled them to facilitate communication between the

plantations, a significant feature in organised slave resistance as well as the

development of creole society.

Post-emancipation division of labour

By the end of the eighteenth century in England regional variations in types

of agriculture had produced different practices in the division of labour by

gender (Pahl, 1984). In the new capitalist agriculture of South-East England

technological changes had led to the squeezing out of women from agriculture

with the effect of limiting them to lighter work such as weeding and haymaking.

Gradually women moved away from agriculture and into domestic service. The

increasing scale of production and commerce led to the separation of public and

private spheres of work with the men in the public sphere and the women at home.

These developments have been identified with Victorian morality and new middle

class assumptions about the role of women. By the mid-nineteenth century such

metropolitan attitudes had been transferred to the colonies and the planters

found themselves torn between moral certitude and economic preference.

With the ending of slave apprenticeship in the British West Indian colonies

in 1838 many women ex-slaves sought the private sphere hitherto denied them and

it was said that 'mothers of families have retired from the field, to the duties

of the home'. (Morsen, 1841). Regional differences in wage rates encouraged the

ex-slaves to celebrate their freedom by migrating from island to island. Gender

specific migration led to high female sex ratios in many territories. Food prices

rose rapidly and women were forced to return to agricultural work in order to

feed their families. The problems of this inflationary period produced the

curious situation described by Levy in that 'while the planters criticized mothers

for neglecting their offspring, they preferred to hire females, whom they considered

more regular than males in their work habits' (Levy, 1980). In Trinidad, at this

time, labour demand was being met by indentured labourers from India. The planters

declared that for economic reasons they wanted to bring in only able-bodied men

but the British government insisted on a small proportion of female workers on

the grounds that this would prevent immoral behaviour and prostitution (Tikasingh,

1973). These indentured labourers of both sexes were treated as severely as

slaves had been since many estate managers wished to extract the maximum returns

from their investment during the period of the contract (Lowenthal, 1972). Harry

(1980) quotes a newspaper report based on interviews with three women who had

been indentured in the late nineteenth century. According to their story:

'In the cultivation you will find that the women dominated the
group. They were out early in the fields performing hazardous
duties like dropping lime and phosphate of ammonia, planting
foods on the estates, that is vegetable crops and ground
provisions, manuring, cutlassing, weeding, cutting canes,
loading them on carts, and most of the time carrying the canes
on their heads'. (Battlefront, 1978)

In addition to this field work, women were responsible for childcare, housework

and general family maintenance. Thus, under forced labour there was very little

differentiation of agricultural activities based on either gender or ethnicity.

Gender roles under a free labour system

Since the ending of apprenticeship and indenture gender roles in West

Indian peasant agriculture have been largely determined by two factors:

migration, and to a lesser extent type of agriculture. Migration has become

an institutionalized aspect of West Indian society. This migration is largely

gender specific with more men than women emigrating in search of employment.

Consequently most of the West Indies has had a high female sex ratio for the last

century and in 1970 the Commonwealth Caribbean had 238,781 female headed house-

holds constituting 35% of all households in the region (Buvinic and Youssef,

1978). The proportion of female householdheads varies from one-half amongst the

highly migratory Afro-Caribbean population of St. Kitts-Nevis to one-quarter in

Trinidad and Tobago. Female members of Caribbean farm households may play three

economic roles related to agriculture. They may be the decision maker on their

own farm, they may market the production of their own and other farm enterprises

and they may work as agricultural labourers on their own or other agricultural

holdings. These roles are not mutually exclusive and any one individual may

fill all three at different times of year or at various stages in her life cycle.

In particular. communities one of these occupations may predominate but from

time to time the emphasis may change as a result of exogenous factors.

Women as peasant farmers

Census data on gender divisions of labour on small farms is not widely

available and is subject to the usual caveats concerning the effect of enumerators'

and interviewees attitudes on under-reporting of women's economic activity rates

in agriculture (Dixon, 1985). Although the data presented in Table 2 for the Eastern

Caribbean comes from a wide range of sources and is somewhat spotty in its

coverage it is adequate to identify certain trends related to type of agriculture,

inter-island variation and changes over time. On the whole the proportion of

small farms operated by women has declined over the last two decades as the

economic base of most islands has widened. Only in the small impoverished

island of Nevis has this de-feminization of agriculture not occurred. Indeed

in Nevis it is not merely the case that women are maintaining their operation

of the family farm but that women are also actively taking up vacant lots on

government land settlements in order to grow food with which to feed their

families (Momsen, 1986).

Female farming is most common on subsistence holdings and less so on those

farm enterprises oriented towards commercial cropping as the figures for St.

Lucia, Montserrat and Nevis in Table 2 show. In the larger island of Trinidad

there are several distinctive types of farming, and Harry (1980) in her survey

found that one-quarter of the rice and dairy farmers, 22% of the cocoa farmers,

18% of the vegetable farmers, 14% of the tobacco farmers and 13% of the cane

farmers were women. These differences are related to income, land ownership

and gender divisions of labour. Cane farmers had the highest levels of living

and women provided the smallest amount of labour on these farms. Most cocoa

farms were on freehold land and the women farmers in this group had generally

inherited their land from their spouse. Tobacco and vegetable farms were

predominantly on rented land. Female labour inputs were relatively high in

rice and dairy farming.

Examination of the structural characteristics of farms operated by women

shows that these farms are generally smaller, have poorer quality land, are less

accessible to markets and are less likely to include rented land than those

operated t men. The structure and economic level of the female-headed household,

which is commonly associated with these farms, gives rise to labour problems and

to a dependence on the land for subsistence rather than for commercial production.

Women appear to view the farm as an extension of their domestic responsibilities,

concentrating on subsistence production of food crops and small stock rather

than on the export crops and cattle preferred by men. Sometimes, where the land

is jointly operated, women may see the land as a source of economic independence

from the male partner and thus may specialize in the production of fruit and

vegetables which can be sold on the local market. The overall picture of female-

operated farms is that of marginality in terms of capital, land and labour

resources, and largely reflects the economic insecurity of the matrifocal house-

hold. However, the dominant characteristics of these farms vary from island to

island reflecting intra-regional differences in the availability of human and

physical resources.

Women in the Agricultural Labour Force

In addition to their role as peasant farmers, women have continued to play

an important role in the agricultural labour force, as they did in the days of

slavery. The decade following slave emancipation was marked by a rapid decline

in the agricultural labour force, as the women and children amongst the ex-slaves

moved into domestic occupations and education respectively and, where land was

available, the men became peasant farmers. The economic difficulties of the mid-

nineteenth century resulted in a slight increase in the rural proletariat but

this was followed by a century of relative stability in the absolute numbers of

agricultural workers in most of the islands of the Eastern Caribbean. The food

shortages of the Second World War brought the agricultural workforce to its

highest level since slavery but this peak was followed by a rapid decline as

alternative occupations became available to the proletariat (Momsen, 1969).

Within this overall trend the participation rate of women fluctuated as women

came to see themselves as a reserve labour force responding both to seasonal

and to longer term labour shortages in agriculture.

In the late nineteenth century, as men left the smaller islands in search

of economic opportunities overseas, the agricultural workforce became

predominantly female. Brizan indicates a ratio of 132 female to 100 male

agricultural workers in Grenada at this time. Brizan, 1985). In Jamaica from

1890 onwards the rural proletariat began to migrate to the towns (Eisner, 1961),

Women led this urbanward trend, unlike their minor role in overseas migration,

and their participation rate in the Jamaican agricultural labour force fell

from 49.2 per cent in 1891 to 19.9 per cent in 1943 (Roberts, 1957). In the

smaller, less urbanised islands the decline in the agricultural workforce did

not come until after 1946 and was accompanied by a relative increase in female

agricultural workers, especially in the unpaid family worker category (see

Table 3). These post-war changes support Boserup's theory that agriculture

comes to depend increasingly on unpaid female family labour as the number of paid

agricultural workers declines. However, as the tourism and manufacturing

sectors of the Caribbean economy expanded, agriculture declined as an employer,

and women, especially the younger, better educated ones, moved into these growing

sectors. By 1970 only about one-third of the workers in agriculture were women

and the decline during the sixties was most marked in Antigua where agriculture

was very depressed (Table 3).

The most striking development in the West Indian labour force since 1970

has been the increased economic activity rate of women, and the service sector,

in which women predominate, has superseded agriculture as the major employer.

Yet, agricultural labouring remains the main source of income for poor, rural

women and there is anecdotal evidence that high inflation during the 1970s has

forced many women back into subsistence agriculture. Agricultural surveys in

the Windward islands during this period indicate the continuing and ever increas-

ing role of women. Le Franc (1980) found that women formed 50% of the unpaid

family workers and 38% of the paid workers in Grenada's agriculture, 47% of the

unpaid workers and 41% of the paid in St. Vincent and 34% of the unpaid and 35%

of the paid workers in St. Lucia. In Barbados, although agriculture's share of

employment almost halved between 1970 and 1980, the proportion-of women workers

fell only from 38 to 36% (Barbados, 1985). In Montserrat, on the other hand,

although the number of male agricultural workers increased between 1970 and

1980, the number of women workers decreased and the female percentage of the

agricultural labour force declined from 33.4 to 22.6, in response to male

return migration and increased female employment opportunities in tourism and

the textile industry (Montserrat, 1984). It is clear that West Indian women

today, in general, consider agriculture as an occupation of last resort to be

followed only when there is no alternative way of feeding their families.

Gender Divisions of Labour

Women members of farm families work long hours. Knudson and Yates (1981)

in their survey on St. Lucia, found that women worked five to six hours a day

on the farm, three to four hours on housework, two to five hours on childcare

depending on the age of the children, and occasionally spent time on marketing.

It is scarcely surprising that 22 per cent of the women in this survey felt they

had no leisure time at all. The relative work input of men and women varies

with the economic status of the farmer, the type of farming, seasons, the

importance of off-farm employment and the sex of the farm operator. Both Edwards

(1961) working in Jamaica and Macmillan (1967) in Trinidad found that women's

role on the farm differed according to the male partner's economic status: in

poor families women performed all field tasks but as prosperity increased

dependence on female and child family labour declined. Harry (1980) in her

Trinidad survey found very little difference in the mean labour input of men and

women, with men averaging 4.9 days per week and women 4.8. Both sexes worked

seven hours a day in the busy season and three hours in the quiet season. How-

ever, women worked longer hours tan men in rice and vegetable farming while men

put in longer hours in cane and tobacco farms. Men who had off-farm jobs worked

fewer hours on the farm than average and women who operated their own farms worked

five to seven days per week on the farm. In Nevis, on the other hand, there were

distinct gender-based differences in the average hours worked and in the seasonal

pattern of employment. On average, women worked the same number of days per week

as in Trinidad, 4.8, but men put.in 5.5 days. At the busiest time of the

agricultural year women averaged 25 hours and men 35 hours per week, while in the

quiet season women worked 18 hours compared to 27 hours for men.- Thus the weekly

hours worked by women fell from 72 per cent of male hours in the busy season to

66 per cent in the quiet season suggesting that women form, to some degree, a

reserve supply of labour for the farm to be drawn on at periods of peak demand.

The allocation of tasks by gender has become more marked over time. Under

slavery both men and women carried out the full range of farming tasks in the

field and divisions of labour were based more on age than on gender. This

situation was still evident in Grenada in the 1930s when, as Brizan (1979) comments,

'rural womenfolk were engaged in all agricultural activities pursued by men, in

addition to their domestic chores.' Today gender differences largely conform

with the pattern found by Murdock and Provost (1973) in their cross-cultural

sample of 185 societies. In general, as shown by.field surveys in Nevis (Momsen,

1979) Trinidad (Harry, 1980) St. Lucia (Table 5) and St. Vincent (Table 4),

women perform the less strenuous tasks such as planting, weeding, fertilising,

moulding up of soil around young plants and harvesting. Men undertake the

preparation of the soil, the hoeing or ploughing, and the transporting of the crop

from the field. Some of these tasks are gender-neutral or interchangeable

especially harvesting and fertilising. Pest control is least likely to be under-

taken by women because they feel that the use of chemical sprays is dangerous to

women, especially when they are pregnant or lactating. Women farmers without

available assistance from male relatives will hire male agricultural labourers

for this task alone. Weeding is the task most often seen as suitable for women

only, especially on tobacco and vegetable farms, but weeding and pruning is

considered a masculine task for crops such as cocoa and bananas.

The gender division of labour associated with livestock is often considered

to relate to the size of the animal, with men caring for large animals and women

for small stock (Murdock and Provost, 1973). In the West Indies these gender

divisions appear to be more closely linked to specific tasks and to the level of

commercialization of the particular animal. Yates' work in St. Vincent and St.

Lucia revealed that the construction of sheds and fencing for stock, and the

slaughter of animals are jobs done only by men. Women help with daily care of

farm animals and with the milking and collection of eggs and are responsible

for the marketing of these products. In Trinidad men care for the beef cattle

and the equines while women do much of the work with the dairy cattle and look

after all other animals (Harry, 1980). In Nevis, where sheep and goats are of

major economic importance, men are normally in charge of all the animals, except

poultry, and do all the marketing of animal products. It would appear that in

both Trinidad and Nevis it is the level of commercialization of stock raising

which determines the gender roles, rather than the type of animal.


Rural women in the West Indies fulfil their roles within the constraints of

household structure, occupational multiplicity, time and space. The interaction

of these constraints is seen most succinctly in terms of a time geographical

diagram (Fig. 1). It is clear that the presence of older children reduces the

demand for the mother's labour in the fields and possibly may determine how far

the family is able to market its agricultural produce. Younger children keep

the mother tied closely to her private sphere of the home but many women develop

home-based income-earning opportunities such as baking, sewing or store-keeping.

Women are responsible for the dooryard garden of vegetables and herbs and the

poultry and pigs kept close to the house and fed on household scraps. Women are

least likely to work in the most distant fields which are usually kept in tree

crops or other crops unlikely to suffer from praedial larceny.

Under slavery gender roles in agriculture were undifferentiated but today

most rural people feel that women's roles are changing, according to Yates'

surveys in St. Vincent and St. Lucia. In Trinidad, Harry felt that the 'female

coolie syndrome', with women working up to sixteen hours a day in the fields and

the home from the age of 10 was disappearing with the improved educational

attainment of young women and the new opportunities for non-farm female employ-

ment. Yet the traditional pattern of male dominated gender relations is not

changing (Henry and Wilson, 1975) and as women expand their horizons and become

more confident they find themselves unable to alter their domestic work patterns

(John, Elwin et al., 1983). It is essential if West Indian peasant agriculture,

which depends so heavily on women's work, is to become more efficient that the

conflicts between women's productive and reproductive roles at the household

level are reduced.

January 1986.


1985 1980/81 Population Census of the Commonwealth Caribbean: Barbados
Vol. 1. Statistical Service, Barbados.

1978 Indentured labour. 19 May, 7, Vol. 2. Trinidad.

Beckford, William
1788 Remarks upon the Situation of Negroes in Jamaica, London.

Boserup, Ester
1970 Women's Role in.Economic Development. New York: St. Martin's

Brizan, George I.
1979 The Grenadian Peasantry and Social Revolution 1930-1951.
Working Paper No. 21. I.S.E.R. Jamaica: University of the
West Indies.

Brizan, George I.
1984 Grenada: Island of Conflict. Zed Books Ltd: London.

Buvinic, M. and N. H. Youssef.
1978 Women-headed households: the ignored factor in development
planning. Washington, D.C: International Center for Research
on Women.

Dixon-Mueller, Ruth
1985 Women's work in Third World Agriculture. Geneva: International
Labour Office.

Edwards, David
1961 Report on Economic Study of Small Farming in Jamaica. ISER, Jamaica:
University College of the West Indies.

Edwards, M.R.
1980 Jamaican higglers: their significance and potential. Monograph
V 11. Swansea: Centre for Development Studies, University College
of Wales.

Eisner, G.
1961 Jamaica 1830-1930: A study in economic growth. Manchester
University Press.

Harry, Indra S.
1980 Women in agriculture in Trinidad. Unpublished M.Sc thesis.
University of Calgary.

Henry, Frances and Pamela Wilson
1975 The status of women in Caribbean Societies: An Overview of their
Social, Economic and Sexual Roles. Social and Economic Studies,
24: 2: 165-198.

Henshall, J.D. (Momsen)
1981 Women and small scale farming in the Caribbean. In Papers in
Latin American Geography in.Honor of Lucia, C. Harrison, 0. Horst
(ed). Muncie, Indiana: CLAG 28-43.

John, N., H. Elwin, S. Charles and H. Clarendon
1983 The G-Toc Cooperative of Dominica: Past and Future, In Planning
for Women in Rural Development. Barbados. WAND,.Extra-Mural
Department, University of the West Indies. 49-60.

Knudson, Barbara and Yates, Barbara A
1981 The Economic Role of Women in Small Scale Agriculture in the
Eastern Caribbean St. Lucia. Barbados: WAND, Extra-Mural
Department, University of the West Indies.

Le Franc, E.R.
1980 Grenada, St. Vincent and St. Lucia, in Small Farming in the less
developed countries of the Conmmonwealth Caribbean. Barbados.
Caabbean Development Bank 1-143.

Levy, C.
1980 Emancipation, sugar and federalism: Barbados and the West Indies
1833-1876, Gainesville: University of Florida Press.

Lowenthal, David
1972 West Indian Societies London: Oxford University Press.

MacMillan, A.A.
1967 The development of market gardening in Aranguez, Trinidad. Ph.D
thesis. University of the West Indies, Trinidad.

Mintz, S.W.
1964 Currency problems in eighteenth century Jamaica and Gresham's Law.
In Process and pattern in culture: Essays in honor of Julian N.
Steward. A. Manners (ed.) Chicago: Aldine.

Momsen, J. Henshall
1969 The_Geography of Land Use and Population in the Caribbean with
special reference to Barbados and the Windward islands. Ph.D
thesis. University of London.

Momsen, J. (Henshall)
1986 Land Settlement as a Solution. In J. Momsen and J. Besson (eds.)
Attitudes to Land in the Caribbean. London: MacMillan. In Press.

Morsen, H..
1841 The present condition of the British West Indies: their wants and
the remedy for these. London: privately published.

1984 1980-81 Population Census of the Commonwealth Caribbean: Montserrat.
Volume 1. Jamaica: Statistical Institute.

Murdoch, G.P. and C. Provost
1973 Factors in the division of labor by sex: A cross-cultural analysis.
Ethnology 12, 203-225.

Pahl, R.E.
1984 Divisions of Labour. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Roberts, G.W.
1957 The population of Jamaica. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Snell, K.D.M.
1980 Agricultural seasonal unemployment, the standards of living and
women's work in the southland east 1690-1860. Economic History
Review. 407-437.

Tikasingh, G.
1973 The establishment of the Indians in Trinidad, 1870-1900. Ph.D thesis.
University of the West Indies, Trinidad.

Williams, Eric
1970 From Columbus to Castro. London: Andre Deutsch.


Labour Patt2rns at Mescco-mia =1antaticn. Jamaica. in 1809

Worers Males Famales plantation

Drivers 4 1 1.55
Craftworkers 25 0 7.75
Domestics 8 15 7.14
Field Cooks 0 6 1.86
Fieldworkers 45 92 42.55
Jobbers 7 0 2.17
Transport 6 0 1.86
Stockkeepers 14 2 4.97
Watchmen 19 0 5.90
Nurses 0 11 3.42

Total 128 127 79.19*

* 20.81% of the population wers classed as non-workers i.e. too young, too old,
or too sick.

(Adapted from Richard Ounn's table in 'A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life
at Mesocotamia in Jamaica and Mount Airy in Virginia, 1799 to 1828', William
and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol.XXXIV, No.1, 52.)


Sex of decision makers on farms of less than 10 acres in selected
Eastern Caribbean territories

Island Year of Survey Sample Size Percentage farms with
female decision makers

Barbados 1963 207 53.1
Barbuda 1971-73 234 28.2
Grenada 1969 256 20.7
Grenada* 1969 214 18.7
Martinique 1964 203 35.5
Martinique 1981 17919 20.0
Montserrat 1972 527 44.2
Montserrat 1983 125 32.1
Montserrat* 1973 60 36.6
Montserrat* 1985 136 27.9
Montserrat 1950 205 29.2
Nevis 1979 91 30.8
Nevis 1985 407 38.3
St. Lucia 1964 187 42.8
St. Lucia 1980/81 7520 23.0
St. Lucia* 1971 47 17.0
St. Lucia* 1984 152 15.8
St. Vincent 1972 6862 46.2
Trinidad 1979 80 28.8

*Sample drawn from commercial farmers only.
Sources: Field Surveys for Barbados, Martinique, Nevis, Montserrat (1973)
and St. Lucia (1964 and 1971). Data for St. Vincent and Montserrat
(1972) comes from the 1972 Agricultural Census. Data for Grenada
from John S. Brierley Small Farming in Grenada W I Winnipeg 1974;
for Barbuda from Riva Berleant-Schiller, Production and division of
labor in a West Indian peasant community, American Ethnologist 4
1977 pp 253-272; and for Trinidad from I 5 Harry, Women in
Agriculture in Trinidad, unpublished M Sc thesis, University of
Caigary 1980.
St. Lucia 1980/81 and 1984 data supplied by Department of Agriculture,
Castries. Montserrat (1983)Census of Agriculture, 1983 data
supplied by Department of Agriculture, Plymouth. Nevis 1950 and
1985, Farmers on Land Settlements, data supplied by Department of
Agriculture, Charlestown. Martinique, 1981, Recensement General
de 1'Agriculture, 1980-81, Martinique, SCEES, SRSA-DOM, DDA
Martinique, 1983.

Percentage of Women in the Agricultural Labour Force of

Selected Caribbean Territories 1946,1961 and 1970






St Kitts-Nevis

St Lucia

St Vincent

Percentage of Women
Agricultural Labour
1946 1961
















Agriculture's Share of
Total Employment,1970

Male Female Total
12.0 8.4 10.6

16.5 15.3 16.0
46.6 27.2 39.5

34.2 31.9 33.3
36.7 30.1 34.2
46.1 27.8 39.7

32.2 23.1 29.0

Sources: West Indian Census,1946 Vol.1.(Kingston,Jamaica,1950);

Agricultural Census of the West Indies,1961,Eastern
Caribbean Territories (Bridgetown,Barbados,1968);

1970 Population Census of the Commonwealth Caribbean
Vol.4,Part 16(Kingston,Jamaica,1976.)


Gender Divisions of Labour

Type of Job

Preparation of Soil
Pest Control
Keeping records
Care of Livestock

on Small Farms in St. Vincent

Percentage Distribution of Labour
Male Female Joint Not Applicable


SourcetAdapted from a sample survey of small farms
undertaken by Barbara Yates in 1981.

in St Vincent


Gender Divisions of Labour on Small Farms in St Lucia

Type of Job

Preparation of Soil
Pest Control
Care of Livestock

Percentage Distribution of Labour
Male Female Joint

Source:Adapted from Tables III-13 and 111-15 in The Economic Role
of Women in Small Scale Agriculture in the Eastern
Caribbean-St Lucia by Barbara Knudson and Barbara Yates
Women and Development Unit,Barbados.1981.



24 I

22 i !

20 i,

16 i l

a 12 11
S12 I : i

Business Farm Home School Market

- Husband
----Daughter over
--..- 2 sons over
.......... 5 children under

15 years of age


University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs