Gender analysis of livelihood strategies among ethnic households in Northern Laos: From subsistence agriculture to rubber plantations

The study examined livelihood changes in eight villages in Luang Namtha province of northern Lao PDR following the expansion in rubber plantations and analyzed its impact on gender roles and relations. The differential impact of rubber plantation was analyzed on the basis of location (distance from border), infrastructure (distance from roads), land ownership (concession, small farmhold) and timeline for entry into rubber plantations. Early adopters located near the border were able to gain maximum benefit from rubber plantations and these benefits were instrumental in transforming gender roles and relations in favor of women. The study showed used the concept of Long’s ‘social interface’ to argue the diversity in coping strategies employed by women and men in different locations and contexts, and questioned the sustainability of these livelihood changes.