«Women-only focus group discussion in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. 17 August 2011 i Version 1 – August 2011 Contents Abbreviations and Acronyms Executive ...»
The awareness of gender issues in West Africa is severely restricted by a pervasive maledominated culture and religion. Traditional and religious practices may relegate women to traditional household roles, often leaving them in fear of rejection or even a violent reaction from their families. The situation is improving, but there is still a long way to go before men are aware of gender issues (Kellow 2010). With the exception of Ghana, P4P pilot countries score consistently lower on gender when compared to counterparts in Southern Africa and East Africa (see Table 2). Sierra Leone and Mali score below the norm, particularly in the areas of family code, ownership rights and physical integrity.
Women’s ability to influence household decisions varies within the region, and women tend to have more influence in matrilineal groups (where men inherit from their mother’s brothers rather than their fathers)16. In these situations, women are able to exploit the contradictions between the two groups of authority figures (husbands and brothers), and thereby carve out a larger space of action for themselves (SIDA 2004).
P4P countries in Southern Africa are relatively similar to their East African counterparts, with particular nuances related to family code and ownership rights. Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have high numbers of early marriages and This is a very important factor, given that development programmes in situations where unfavourable cultural frameworks are institutionally and legally sanctioned either cannot fully promote women’s empowerment and active participation, or have to find other, creative ways of doing this.
Kebele is the smallest administrative unit in Ethiopia.
Matrilineal is not to be confused with matriarchal. It means that kinship is recognised according to the mother’s line, which means that a man does not inherit from his father but from his mother’s brother.
polygamy is legal under customary law. In DRC, married women do not have the legal recognition to sign certain acts and contracts without the consent of their husbands (SIGI 2009). The dual legal system (general law and customary law) which arose from colonisation is a complicating factor in the legal life of women in the region (Van Hook and Ngwenya 1996).
Gender discrimination in social institutions is low across Latin America; overall, it is the region with the least gender disparity between countries. All countries in the region are ranked in the top half of the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI). Despite the positive performance, the physical protection of women is a concern (SIGI 2009). The scorings hide complex realities. The culture of machismo prevails in Latin America, particularly in rural areas. In some countries (e.g. Guatemala and El Salvador), sexual violence was systematically used as a weapon of war (Crosby 2009) and this deterred women from taking on leadership positions in communities where their husbands, sons and fathers had voluntarily joined or been forced into joining guerrilla movements. In countries with higher proportions of indigenous populations, ethnic identity is a clear social marker. If rural women in Latin America are less educated and vulnerable to landlessness and precarious labour relations, indigenous women are even more so. Indigenous women suffer cumulative discrimination, based on their ethnicity and their gender. Their main concern is with the former, and the focus is on group survival. In Guatemala, these women did not articulate themselves as women, but only as part of a group which as an ethnic group was historically and systematically discriminated against. In contrast, women of European descent are aware of, and more concerned about, the process of inequality affecting them. Benno de Keijzer describes how, reacting to a Mexican non-governmental organisation’s (NGO’s) work of gender awareness, women often mentioned that they knew all that there was to know about gender issues, and pleaded with the organisation to tell their husbands instead.
Keijzer believes that this signals a transition from women who lack awareness to women who are gender aware, hence the bulk of the work that now needs to be done is with men (2004). However, this does not hold true in the case of indigenous women where their focus on ethnic discrimination makes them less aware the gender discrimination to which they are also subject.
2.2 Women’s role in agriculture and the gender division of labour Another aspect of gender-specific constraints is the gender division of labour. Societal norms tend to assign different labour roles to women and men. At a general level, women’s work is primarily in the domestic sphere, while men are viewed as working outside the domestic sphere as the main breadwinners17 (Kes and Swaminathan 2006). This means that a majority of women’s work tends to be economically ‘invisible’. As a consequence, women may be limited from participating in commercial productive activities, such as production for the market.
The allocation of people’s time in rural areas can be divided up into three categories. Productive work can be for the market and not for the market. Principal non-market productive work includes subsistence production, which concerns production of goods that in principle could be marketed (food, clothing, pottery etc.), but are used for household consumption. This category also includes water and firewood collection. Reproductive work is confined to the non-market sphere and includes domestic and care work, such as preparing meals, laundry, cleaning, household maintenance and caring for children, the sick and the elderly. Voluntary work comprises unpaid activity in community and civic associations.
However, women’s productive role is not confined to the household. The latest data shows that women make up on average 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. Within this, they perform a variety of roles: own-account farmers/producers (for subsistence and/or the market), unpaid family workers, and agricultural wage labourers and traders.18 Women tend to grow crop types and varieties for domestic use and consumption whereas men prefer varieties with clear market demand. This demarcation is often referred to as ‘gendered’ crops and cropping patterns.19 Men are responsible for keeping and marketing large livestock, whereas women tend to control dairy animals and smaller animals such as goats, sheep and poultry (FAO 2011a). Women play important roles in all aspects of fisheries, but particularly as entrepreneurs in fish processing (FAO 2011a; Weeratunge and Snyder 2009).
Importantly, rural women and men do not constitute homogeneous groups in their capacity to improve their own situation. Circumstances are influenced not only by gender, but also by positions in the community that in turn are influenced by ethnicity, age, class, caste and other sources of inequality (ALINe 2010). An important distinction is the differences between women in female-headed households (FHHs) and in male-headed households.
These roles also vary according to farming systems (crops, livestock, fisheries) within and between countries and regions.
So, despite the gender division of labour, there are areas where women producers have traditionally sold to the market, either surplus staple crops (maize, cassava, millet, rice), or more traditional cash crops20, such as vegetables, coffee and cocoa (Mayoux 2009; Fontana with Paciello 2010; Dolan 2005), and fish (Weeratunge and Snyder 2009). Farming systems can also change rapidly. A common current trend in many regions is the so-called ‘feminisation of agriculture’ (Deere 2005; Cernea 2008; Lastarria-Cornhiel 2006), or the growing dominance of women in agricultural production and the associated decreased role of men in the sector. This development is taking place as the number of FHHs (in which women are assuming traditional male roles) is increasing at a global level (FAO 2011a). A major driver of these developments is men migrating from rural areas to towns and cities Agriculture includes crops and livestock production, forestry and fisheries. Rural men and women often run (even part-time) micro or small agriculture-related enterprises such as agro-processing (e.g. yoghurt/ghee, fish drying, smoking and/or salting, making cloth or leather goods), production/maintenance of agricultural machinery and tools, and marketing agricultural produce.
The concept of gendered cropping patterns is somewhat contested in the literature. For instance, empirical evidence from Ghana suggests that although there are gendered cropping patterns, this does not mean that crops are completely controlled by women or men, rather that there are certain crops that women tend to grow disproportionately in comparison to men, for instance vegetables (Doss 2002). Apart from different crop types there are also gendered cropping patterns between different varieties of crops. This is particularly important for a crop such as maize that is both a cash crop and a subsistence crop. For instance, although women may be responsible for local varieties of maize for domestic consumption (e.g. in Ghana and Malawi), men tend to control the production and marketing of higher-yielding varieties, such as hybrid maize (Doss 1999).
Cash crop here is defined as a crop grown for profit, and more notably in commodity exchange markets. This includes more traditional cash crops such as coffee, cocoa and cotton, as well as staple crops, such as maize and rice. Cash crops and crops grown for self-subsistence are not mutually exclusive. When staple crops acquire higher market value farmers tend to increase its production.
(nationally or internationally), and the related abandonment of farming by men for more lucrative occupations in urban areas (Deere 2005; FAO undated).
Another trend is the emergence of contract farming and modern supply chains for highervalue agricultural crops that present both opportunities and challenges for women.
Evidence about women’s role in modern contract farming shows that women are largely excluded from contracting arrangements, but tend to do much of the work on the farms contracted as unpaid family workers (FAO 2011a; Maertens 2010). Women may benefit from modern supply chains for crops that have been traditionally grown by women, such as vegetables and fruit, but there is evidence that men encroach on women’s activities as they become more profitable (Doss 2002; FAO 2011a).
2.2.1 Regional variations in the gender division of labour Variations in the gender division of labour between and within regions and counties are reported in numerous other studies and evidenced by ALINe’s fieldwork. See Section 5.7.2 below for areas where women tend to control production, processing and marketing – socalled ‘gendered’ crops and cropping patterns – or other productive activities.
In Africa men are often reported as responsible for the hard physical work of clearing the land, and women for weeding and post-harvest processing (Peterman et al 2010). A study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) indicates that African women undertake about 80 per cent of the work in food storage and transportation, 90 per cent of the work of hoeing and weeding, and 60 per cent of the work in harvesting and marketing (Quisumbing et al 1995). There is evidence that women’s role in agriculture is growing, with women increasingly involved in production for the market (Saito 1994; FAO 2011a). There are regional variations and, notably, the ALINe fieldwork does in some cases
contradict the literature:
In East Africa, the distinction between cash crops for men and domestic crops for women holds true at a general level, but more important is the fine detail of who controls the production of different types of crops, and the market (local or global).
Women are responsible for cash crops in some countries (e.g. vegetables and fruit in Kenya). For livestock systems, men and women both prefer local dairy cattle and small ruminants (for fattening) because of their adaptability and low feed requirements.
Decisions about crops and inputs such as technology adoption (e.g. seed selection) are mainly taken by men or, less frequently, negotiated between husbands and wives (Rocheleau and Edmunds 1997). Fieldwork also found that despite the differences between what men and women tend to do, there are many cases where men and women collaborate. Both in Ethiopia and in Tanzania women participated in every stage of the production of cash crops with the exception of ploughing (in Ethiopia) and marketing (in both Ethiopia and Tanzania). Women accumulated this work with all their other activities: growing food products for domestic consumption, taking care of the children, fetching water, collecting wood and so forth. Similarly, fieldwork shows that joint decision-making is increasing within households. Yet men are clearly in charge of all decisions that affect production and marketing. Women, and particularly married women, grow other crops either for direct family consumption or to be sold in local markets, and the responsibility for and the work on the production of these crops were left entirely to women. In the focus group discussions (FGDs), women stated that the main reason they did not grow maize or other marketable crops was because this was their husband’s task. They were not interested in opportunities to grow maize for the market; they did not see it as profitable and they were more interested in other ways of diversifying their productive activities (from growing vegetables to keeping dairy animals) in order to diversify their livelihood strategies and household income. Women in FHHs, however, did grow staple crops and controlled the sale of large amounts in the market.