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"At Least There is Something!": Strategic decision-making by female farmers in Western Kenya
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In rural sub-Saharan Africa women are often described as the most important farmers, producing the bulk of subsistence food. In this study it is shown that female farmers in the four visited villages of Western Kenya are much more than farmers. This follows from problems of land scarcity and economic hardships in the area, but is also a response by individual women to the frames set by the systematic features of gender relations. Moreover, the study shows that there is important differences in room-for manoeuvre of women of different economic and social circumstances. Several examples of women who strengthen their decision-making power, apparently because of greater economic marginalisation rather than increased independence are given.

The study gives attention to the room-for-manoeuvre female farmers perceive they have, given the local structural and social conditions. Of special concern is how systematic features of the organisation of gender relations affect the women's priorities and actions. The thesis approaches these questions by using a gender system perspective, emphasising the normative role given to men in the two ethnic communities and the historical an present gendered separation of tasks and responsibilities. The gender system has implications for women's strategic decision-making as it affects both the resources available to them and the norms for what is socially acceptable for them to do.

Structural approaches to tenure systems, infrastructural endowment and population structure are used to further picture the basic conditions (beside the physical ones) farmers have to relate to when deciding on their production. But individual local social networks are equalyl important to women's decision-making, and local/regional formal and informal agents also influence the actions of individuals. The study also shows how women relate to the extension services provided by the districts, by the research organisation ICRAF and by NGOs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Kulturgeografiska institutionen , 2004. , 255 p.
Meddelanden från Kulturgeografiska institutionen vid Stockholms universitet, ISSN 0585-3508 ; 131
Keyword [en]
Western Kenya, Luo, Luhya, female farmers, gender system, gender contract, intensification of agriculture, diversification of agriculture, diversification of economic sources
National Category
Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-188ISBN: 91-7265-912-2OAI: diva2:190690
Public defence
2004-06-04, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 14:15
Available from: 2004-05-13 Created: 2004-05-13Bibliographically approved

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