Feminization, agricultural transition and rural employment (FATE)


FATE stands for Feminization, Agricultural Transition and Rural Employment. The project assesses the conditions under which the shift from self-sufficiency towards wage reliance enhances the capabilities of household members and their well-being, or, conversely, adds pressure on farming families as they opt out of subsistence and are pushed towards capital investment. Instead of gaining more choice – the implicit promise of development – smallholder farmers might risk losing their land and facing added dependency and vulnerability. In view of the dramatic transformations taking place in rural economies, we aim to discuss the potentials these dynamics offer for rural labour markets, and to address the risks local men and women face as they engage in wage employment.


FATE draws on the capability approach to understand how the increasing commercialization of agriculture and the transformation of rural labour markets affect the men and women working in these markets. Our research framework combines within-case and cross-case perspectives. Quantitative and qualitative data are collected and analysed across four less developed, landlocked countries: Bolivia, Laos, Nepal, and Rwanda. By comparing the situations in these countries we aim, first, to understand what social and political conditions are needed to enable asset-building at the household level; and second, to identify barriers hindering people – particularly the more vulnerable groups – from escaping poverty.


The findings will feed into debates on the transformative power of economic change induced by globalization. FATE will contribute to policy frameworks that aim to create not only jobs but also perspectives for sustainable development, notably for the poorer portions of developing societies. Transdisciplinary in nature, the project will provide evidence-based information for governance: knowledge that can inform negotiations of social justice in the context of agricultural transition and rural employment.


Start of project: 1 July 2014

1st phase: 1 July 2014 - 30 June 2017

2nd phase: 1 July 2017 - ongoing

Duration: 6 years

Geographic scope

  • Bolivia
  • Rwanda
  • Lao PDR
  • Nepal