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Governance, Gender and the Appropriation of Natural Resources: A Case Study of ‘Left-Behind’ Women’s Collective Action in China

Du, Yanqiang, Ravenscroft, Neil, Wang, Yan, Liu, Pingyang
Society & natural resources 2019 v.32 no.4 pp. 382-399
case studies, collective action, decision making, gender, governance, rural areas, urbanization, villages, women, China
China’s rapid urbanization has created large scale of population migration, resulting in many villages being dominated by “left-behind” women, and weak governance of those collectively owned resources. The situation has required these women to take up the functions of decision-making and governance as a remedial mechanism as well as a new path. Based on a case study in a typical hollowing-out village in central China, this paper explores an example of left-behind women’s collective action to prevent the over-exploitation of community and resources. It finds out that although traditionally excluded from public activities and marginalized, the “left-behind” women were able to mobilize and enhance collective action. When empowered, they are growing fast with endurance and courage, and as capable as anyone of defending the common-pool resources. It suggests that the left-behind women offer a new governance option for those population hollowing out rural areas.