Men, Women, and Environmental Change in Indonesia: The Gendered Face of Development Among the Dayak Benuaq

Michaela Haug


The increasing penetration of global capitalism, ambitious development efforts, and related environmental change have significantly transformed Kalimantan and its indigenous population, commonly referred to as Dayak, during the last decades. This article analyzes these processes from a gendered perspective and explores how gender relations among the Dayak, who generally are characterized by well-balanced gender relations, have been influenced by what is commonly referred to as ‘development’. A review of the existing literature shows that new asymmetries between men and women are emerging mainly due to different ways of inclusion in new economic systems. Based on research among the Dayak Benuaq, the article shows that far-reaching gender equality has been so far upheld within Benuaq society while gender gets interwoven with an increasing variety of inequalities. I argue that in order to capture this complexity, research on the gendered impacts of development should a) aim for a better understanding of the intertwinement of gender with other aspects, such as ethnicity, class, age, or education, b) pay more attention to how these aspects play out in different contexts, and c) differentiate more clearly between gender ideals, norms, and actual practice.


Development; Environmental Change; Gender; Indigenous Peoples; Kalimantan

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