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One of the consultants I've worked with recommended me for the review board of an academic journal for articles on gender issues. While it's nice to be called "Dr." (shouldn't I rightly be called "Master"? Or "Mistress"?) I don't know anything about writing reviews, rice farms, Chinese collectives, or this area of Benin. So I emailed back and let the editor know that I don't have the proper background to give any sort of relevant critique.

I mean, this sounds really technical.

Dear Dr. Cabus,

One of our editorial advisors suggested that we contact you regarding a manuscript we recently received. Would you be willing to review the paper abstracted below? Thank you for your consideration.

Title: Gender-differentiated impact of collective action governance in semi-collective irrigated rice schemes in Benin

Abstract: Collective action groups have many advantages and are sometimes essential, yet they can reinforce or perpetuate inter- and intra-gender inequalities when their creation and functioning are left entirely subject to internal community dynamics. This is well illustrated by the case of Koussin-Lélé, a semi-collective irrigated rice scheme in the central part of Benin, West Africa. Set up by the Chinese in 1969, the rice scheme was managed for its first quarter century as a men-only collective with women used as laborers. After complete failure of the collective, the men formed separate groups in 1994 and adopted an organizational system of individually-managed plots, while still maintaining the collective access to credit and management of production materials and equipment as well as the use of women as simple laborers. It was only after revolts and intervention by district authorities that the women formed their group and have plots of land allocated to them.

This paper shows that women are particularly discriminated against with regards to access to land, with significant impacts on their productivities, incomes and technical efficiencies. Inequality and discrimination were also observed in the male groups, with significant negative impacts on the productivities and incomes. In fact most of the inequality in the perimeter is the result of inequalities in the male groups. However, this discrimination did not have a significant impact on technical efficiency. These results show that outside intervention may be necessary to ensure that self-created collective action groups do not exacerbate intra- and inter-gender inequalities.
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