Research Activities
Strategy for Subsistence in Female-headed Households – A Case of a Rice-farming Village in Siemreap Province, Cambodia
3rd Meeting (Group 4)
■Speaker :Nao Sato, Ph.D candidate, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University
■Place :Meeting Room 4, Shieikan, Fukakusa Campus, Ryukoku University
■Date :27 January 2005, PM3:00-6:00
■Number :05040301
Comment: Ms. Miwa Takahashi (Aikoku Gakuen University)

In the field of development, female-headed households (Fhh) have always been considered “poor” and are beneficiaries in poverty elimination programmes. In many Southeast Asian countries, however, analyses show that Fhh render lower poverty rate than other types of households. With these findings not being shared among agencies and not really explored, Fhh until now remain to be the major target of poverty elimination programmes. Ms Sato’s presentation focused on Cambodia where civil war and Pol Pot regime pushed the ratio of Fhh up to 25% of the total number of households, and tried to clarify their strategy for subsistence.

In village T where she conducted her fieldwork, Fhh are extended families comprising of the nuclear family and female relatives as members, who become sources of both waged and domestic labour force. These female family members tend to engage in food sales that is considered women’s role in this society. In particular, with support from relatives within and out of the household, they get involved in processing and retailing of foods which provide relatively higher income. Surplus labour in the female domestic workforce within the Fhh allow the female members to find jobs in the female service sector in the cities, which further leads to higher and stable income for the household. Fhh in general suffer various constraints and its disadvantaged unless they take some actions. In Cambodia, however, data shows that the social system and the economic structure allow Fhh to overcome these constraints.

The presentation received a comment that it fails to consider rice farming, which is an important entreprise in the village studied, while over-stressing the difference between Fhh and other types of households. Another suggestion was to consider negative factors that may be attributed to the husband, like for example his spending binge, upon household income. Ms Sato responded that she will examine these comments and suggestions further in her planned long-term field research this year.