Published half a decade ago, Boserup’s book, Women’s Role in Economic Development, still remains to be a must-read for anyone who yearns to dig further into gender equality and development studies. Her well-structured analysis will show readers the role of women in every aspect of an economy, yet how it was ignored in a developing world.

The book is divided into three parts, emphasizing economic positions of men and women “in the village”,  “in the town” and “from village to town”. As economic development occurs, women seek further opportunities in modern industry, and their activities in the economy change. However, whether it is agricultural or non-agricultural occupation, women’s role is still underestimated. “In all developing countries – and in most industrialized countries – women perform the simple manual tasks in agriculture while the more efficient types of equipment, operated by animal or mechanical power, are used primarily by the men.” (Boserup, 1970) 

Although Boserup’s work does not include studies about Vietnam, it is still a perfect reference while doing research on the country’s gender gap and economic development. Women’s Role in Economic Development covers both crucial current and interesting foretime topics in Vietnam, including polygamy, international and national migration, property rights, and so on.

As Nazneen Kanji, Su Fei Tan, and Camilla Toulmin introduced, ‘‘Boserup’s contribution to our thinking on women’s role in development cannot be underestimated. Her keen observations, her use of empirical data, and her commitment to greater gender equality are still an inspiration to students, researchers, and activists who are interested in a better and more equal world.’ This book is dedicated and valuable for those who are working towards equality and sustainable development.

-Gia Linh-

Ref: Boserup, E. (2007). Woman’s Role in Economic Development. Earthscan.