Our research examines how the changing cultural norms and legal status in Ecuador have impacted women’s empowerment in the agricultural sector and in rural communities. Cacao provides a particularly relevant case because of its economic and ecological importance to Ecuador and the region. The traditional cacao agroforests also provide many ecological services such as habitat for many endangered plants and animals. However, they are not as profitability as the monoculture systems. Because of these economic and ecological concerns, promotion of cacao agroforests has been the focus of development efforts by the Ecuadorian government, nongovernmental organizations, and international donor agencies, many of whom also have goals of empowering Ecuadorian women (Suarez 2013). Thus, women’s involvement in cacao production would be an important indicator of women’s status in rural Ecuador. To determine the value that men on women place on these nonmarket benefits and ability of women to influence household production decisions, we conducted 350 household interviews throughout coastal Ecuador from February through July, 2013. We implemented a choice experiment separately with the principle male and female member of the household. The choice experiment consisted of the household member choosing between pictures of two parcels to determine how much more profit the participant would need to receive in order to prefer the monoculture system over the agroforestry system. By employing a Random Effects Logit regression, we were able calculate men and women’s average willingness to pay for the attributes of the cacao agroforests (Birol et al. 2006). We found that both genders place a higher value on the agroforests than monoculture corps; however, women place a higher value on these benefits than men do.


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