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Gender Vulnerability to Climate Variability and Household Food Insecurity


Kakota, Tasokwa, Dickson Nyariki, David Mkwambisi, and Wambui Kogi-Makau. 2011. “Gender Vulnerability to Climate Variability and Household Food Insecurity.” Climate and Development 3 (4): 298-309.

Authors: Tasokwa Kakota, Dickson Nyariki, David Mkwambisi, Wambui Kogi-Makau


Climate variability presents different challenges for men and for women in their efforts to ensure household food security. However, despite their central role, gender issues have received only cursory attention in adaptation studies. This article looks at causes of gender vulnerability to climate variability and household food insecurity in one sub-Saharan African country: Malawi. Data were collected through a household questionnaire survey, focus group discussions and key informants’ interviews in Chikhwawa and Ntcheu districts, located in the southern and central areas of Malawi. Results revealed that exposure and sensitivity to climate risks vary between men and women; therefore, each gender responds differently to climate risks, with men having more opportunities than women. The results highlight the need for policies and interventions to empower women in the access to resources that can strengthen households’ resilience to climate variability. 

Keywords: adaptation, climate variability, food insecurity, gender, Malawi, vulnerability, Africa

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Households, Livelihoods, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi

Year: 2011

Structural Adjustment and African Women Farmers


Gladwin, Christina H, ed. 1991. Structural Adjustment and African Women Farmers. Gainesville: University of Florida Press: Center for African Studies, University of Florida.

Author: Christina H. Gladwin


Focuses on the debates surrounding structural lending programmes and the effect they have on women in Africa. It questions the conventional dependency model and provides some counter-evidence that the economic position of women in societies with freer market policies has improved (Summary from WorldCat).
Table of Contents:
1. Structural adjustment and structural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa
Stephen O'Brien
2. Women, structural adjustment, and transformation: some lessons and questions from the African experience
Uma Lele
3. Getting priorities right: structural transformation and strategic notions
Bruce F. Johnston
4. Policies to overcome the negative effects of structural adjustment programs on African female-headed households
Jean M. Due
5. Impact of structural adjustment programs on Women and their households in Bendel and Ogun States, Nigeria
Patience Elabor-Idemudia
6. Women and structural adjustment in Zaire
Brooke Schoef et al.
7. Impact of structural adjustment programs on rural women in Tanzania
Ruth Meena
8. Fertilizer subsidy removal programs and their potential impacts on women farmers in Malawi and Cameroon
Christina H. Gladwin
9. Women traders in Ghana and the structural adjustment program
Gracia Clark and Takyiwaa Manuh
10. Ideology and political economy of gender: women and land in Nso, Cameroon
Miriam Goheen
11. Women's agricultural work in a multimodal rural economy: Ibarapa District, Oyo State, Nigeria
Jane I. Guyer with Olukemi Idowu
12. Structural transformation and its consequences for Orma women pastoralists
Jean Ensminger
13. New women's organizations in Nigeria: one response to structural adjustment
Lillian Trager and Clara Osinulu
14. Role of home economics agents in rural development programs in northern Nigeria: impacts of structural adjustment
Comfort B. Olayiwole
15. Curriculum planning for women and agricultural households: the case of Cameroon
Suzanna Smith, Barbara Taylor
16. Women farmers, structural adjustment, and FAO's plan of action for integration of women in development
Anita Spring and Vicki Wilde.

Topics: Agriculture, Economies, Poverty, Households, International Financial Institutions, Political Economies, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania

Year: 1991

An Analysis of Water Collection Labor among Women and Children in 24 Sub-Saharan African Countries


Graham, Jay P., Mitsuaki Hirai, and Seung-Sup Kim. 2016. “An Analysis of Water Collection Labor among Women and Children in 24 Sub-Saharan African Countries.” PLOS ONE 11 (6): e0155981. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0155981.

Authors: Jay P. Graham, Mitsuaki Hirai, Seung-Sup Kim



It is estimated that more than two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) must leave their home to collect water, putting them at risk for a variety of negative health outcomes. There is little research, however, quantifying who is most affected by long water collection times.


This study aims to a) describe gender differences in water collection labor among both adults and children (< 15 years of age) in the households (HHs) that report spending more than 30 minutes collecting water, disaggregated by urban and rural residence; and b) estimate the absolute number of adults and children affected by water collection times greater than 30 minutes in 24 SSA countries.


We analyzed data from the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) (2005–2012) to describe water collection labor in 24 SSA countries.


Among households spending more than 30 minutes collecting water, adult females were the primary collectors of water across all 24 countries, ranging from 46% in Liberia (17,412 HHs) to 90% in Cote d’Ivoire (224,808 HHs). Across all countries, female children were more likely to be responsible for water collection than male children (62% vs. 38%, respectively). Six countries had more than 100,000 households (HHs) where children were reported to be responsible for water collection (greater than 30 minutes): Burundi (181,702 HHs), Cameroon (154,453 HHs), Ethiopia (1,321,424 HHs), Mozambique (129,544 HHs), Niger (171,305 HHs), and Nigeria (1,045,647 HHs).


In the 24 SSA countries studied, an estimated 3.36 million children and 13.54 million adult females were responsible for water collection in households with collection times greater than 30 minutes. We suggest that accessibility to water, water collection by children, and gender ratios for water collection, especially when collection times are great, should be considered as key indicators for measuring progress in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector.

Topics: Age, Youth, Gender, Women, Men, Girls, Boys, Health, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Livelihoods Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte D'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe

Year: 2016

Youth Transport, Mobility, and Security in Sub-Saharan Africa - The Gendered Journey to School


Porter, Gina, Kate Hampshire, Albert Abane, Alister Munthali, Elsbeth Robson, Mac Mashiri, and Augustine Tanle. 2009. “Youth Transport, Mobility, and Security in Sub-Saharan Africa - The Gendered Journey to School.” In Women’s Issues in Transportation - Summary of the 4th International Conference. Vol. 2. Irvine, California: Transportation Research Board.

Authors: Gina Porter, Kate Hampshire, Albert Abane, Alister Munthali, Elsbeth Robson, Mac Mashiri, Augustine Tanle


This paper draws on empirical data from a three-country (Ghana, Malawi, and South Africa) study of young people’s mobility to explore the gendered nature of children’s journeys to school in sub-Saharan Africa. Gender differences in school enrollment and attendance in Africa are well established: education statistics in many countries indicate that girls’ participation in formal education is often substantially lower than boys’, especially at the secondary school level. Transport and mobility issues commonly form an important component of this story, though the precise patterning of the transportation and mobility constraints experienced by girls and the ways in which transport factors interact with other constraints vary from region to region. In some contexts, the journey to school represents a particularly hazardous enterprise for girls because they face a serious threat of rape. In other cases, girls’ journeys to school and school attendance are hampered by Africa’s transport gap and by cultural conventions that require females to be responsible for pedestrian head loading (transporting loads such as food crops or fuel on the head) and other work before leaving for, or instead of attending, school. evidence comes from a diverse range of sources, but the data used here are principally drawn from a survey questionnaire conducted with approximately 1,000 children ages 7 to 18 years across eight sites in each country. The aim of this study is to draw attention to the diversity of gendered travel experiences across geographical locations (paying attention to associated patterns of transport provision); to explore the implications of these findings for access to education; and to suggest areas in which policy intervention could be beneficial.

Topics: Age, Youth, Education, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Roles, Infrastructure, Transportation Regions: Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana, Malawi, South Africa

Year: 2009

‘I Think a Woman Who Travels a Lot Is Befriending Other Men and That’s Why She Travels’: Mobility Constraints and Their Implications for Rural Women and Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa


Porter, Gina. 2011. “‘I Think a Woman Who Travels a Lot Is Befriending Other Men and That’s Why She Travels’: Mobility Constraints and Their Implications for Rural Women and Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Gender, Place & Culture 18 (1): 65–81. doi:10.1080/0966369X.2011.535304.

Author: GIna Porter


This article is concerned with the implications of practices, politics and meanings of mobility for women and girl children in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Women and girls commonly face severe mobility constraints which affect their livelihoods and their life chances. The article reflects on their experiences in rural areas where patriarchal institutions (including the gender division of labour, which places great emphasis on female labour contributions to household production and reproduction), and a patriarchal discourse concerning linkages between women's mobility, vulnerability and sexual appetite, shape everyday social practices and material inequalities. This compounds the physical constraints imposed by poor accessibility (to services and markets) associated with poor roads and inadequate transport in both direct and more complex ways. The article draws on field research conducted in diverse socio-cultural and agro-ecological contexts in western and southern Africa (principally southern Ghana, southern Malawi and northern and central Nigeria) to explore the impacts of relative immobility and poor service access on women and girls. Three (interconnected) issues are examined in some detail: access to markets, access to education and access to health services. Possible interventions to initiate positive change are considered. (Abstract from original source)

Keywords: gender, mobility, markets, education, health, promiscuity, transport

Topics: Civil Society, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Femininity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Health, Infrastructure, Transportation, Sexuality Regions: Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria

Year: 2011

The Story of an African Famine: Gender and Famine in Twentieth-Century Malawi


Vaughan, Megan. 2007. The Story of an African Famine: Gender and Famine in Twentieth-Century Malawi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Author: Megan Vaughan


This account of the 1949 famine in colonial Malawi employs a wide variety of historical sources, ranging from Colonial Office documentation to the songs of women who lived through the tragedy. The analysis of the causes and development of the famine takes the reader through a detailed agricultural and social history of Southern Malwai in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, focusing in particular on the nature of social and economic stratification, changes in kinship systems and the position of women and placing all this within the wider context of the impact of colonial rule. (Google Books)

Topics: Agriculture, Class, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Economies, Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Women Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi

Year: 2007

Hegemonic African Masculinities and Men's Heterosexual Lives: Some Uses for Homophobia


Ratele, Kopano. 2014. “Hegemonic African Masculinities and Men’s Heterosexual Lives: Some Uses for Homophobia.” African Studies Review 57 (2): 115–130. doi:10.1017/asr.2014.50.


Author: Kopano Ratele


Based on two relatively well-reported cases of homophobia in Malawi and South Africa, this article aims to show some of the ways in which hegemonic African men and masculinities are unsettled by, but also find ideological use for, the existence of homosexuality and nonheteronormative sexualities. Deploying the notion of psychopolitics, the article traces the interpenetrating psychosocial and sociopolitical aspects of homophobia. The argument is that analyses of issues of lesbian, gay, and “othered” sexualities are vital for a fuller understanding of the production of hegemonic forms of gender and masculinity in Africa. The article suggests that the threat posed by homosexuality is used as a distraction for some of the socioeconomic development-related failures of Africa’s ruling men but also, more significantly, for the impossibility of hegemonic African masculinity itself. 

Keywords: homophobia, homosexuality, heteronormative, heterosexual, masculinities

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, LGBTQ, Sexuality Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi

Year: 2014

Endogenous African Governance Systems: What Roles do Women Play in Rural Malawi?


Msukwa, Chimwemwe A.P.S., and Marion Keim-Lees. 2014. “Endogenous African Governance Systems: What Roles Do Women Play in Rural Malawi?” Development in Practice 24 (5–6): 735–42. doi:10.1080/09614524.2014.938613.

Authors: Chimwemwe Msukwa, Marion Keim-Lees



Endogenous African governance systems are criticised for excluding women. This critique ignores several realities that women have played roles different from those of men. This article examines the roles that women play in endogenous governance structures of patrilineal and matrilineal ethnic groups in rural areas in Malawi on leadership, violent conflict prevention, and transformation. It argues that these endogenous governance systems inherently contain features that enable women to actively participate and play powerful leadership roles, though men dominate in terms of numbers and authority. These gender patterns do not seem to change much despite the changing political, social, and economic environment.


Les systèmes endogènes africains de gouvernance sont critiqués parce qu'ils excluent les femmes. Cette critique ignore la réalité selon laquelle les femmes ont joué des rôles différents de ceux des hommes. Cet article examine les rôles que jouent les femmes dans les structures de gouvernance endogènes des groupes ethniques patrilinéaires et matrilinéaires dans des zones rurales du Malawi sur le plan du leadership, de la prévention des conflits violents et de la transformation. Il soutient que ces systèmes de gouvernance endogènes présentent de manière inhérente des caractéristiques qui permettent aux femmes de participer activement et de jouer de puissants rôles de leadership, même si les hommes dominent en termes de nombre et d'autorité. Ces schémas de genre ne semblent pas beaucoup changer malgré l'environnement politique, social et économique en mutation.


Los sistemas endógenos de gobernanza en África han recibido críticas por el hecho de excluir a las mujeres. Sin embargo, tales críticas pasan por alto la realidad de que las mujeres han desempeñado roles diferentes de los cumplidos por los hombres. El presente artículo examina los roles que, en las áreas rurales de Malaui, han desempeñado las mujeres en los ámbitos de liderazgo, de prevención de conflictos violentos y de transformación, dentro de las estructuras de gobierno endógenas de los grupos étnicos patrilineales y matrilineales. Al respecto, se sostiene que, aun cuando los hombres dominen en términos de presencia numérica y autoridad, dichos sistemas contienen modalidades inherentes que permiten la participación activa de las mujeres y que éstas desempeñen roles fuertes de liderazgo. Estos patrones de género no parecen haberse alterado mucho a pesar de los cambios ocurridos en los ámbitos políticos, sociales y económicos.

Keywords: gender, diversity, Sub-Saharan Africa

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Political Participation, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi

Year: 2014

Tracing Shadows: How Gendered Power Relations Shape the Impacts of Maternal Death on Living Children in Sub Saharan Africa


Yamin, Alicia Ely, Junior Bazile, Lucia Knight, Mitike Molla, Emily Maistrellis, and Jennifer Leaning. 2015. “Tracing Shadows: How Gendered Power Relations Shape the Impacts of Maternal Death on Living Children in Sub Saharan Africa.” Social Science & Medicine 135 (June): 143–50. 

Authors: Alicia Ely Yamin, Junior Bazile, Lucia Knight, Emily Maistrellis, Jennifer Leaning


Driven by the need to better understand the full and intergenerational toll of maternal mortality (MM), a mixed-methods study was conducted in four countries in sub-Saharan Africa to investigate the impacts of maternal death on families and children. The present analysis identifies gender as a fundamental driver not only of maternal, but also child health, through manifestations of gender inequity in household decision making, labor and caregiving, and social norms dictating the status of women. Focus group discussions were conducted with community members, and in depth qualitative interviews with key-informants and stakeholders, in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi, and South Africa between April 2012 and October 2013. Findings highlight that socially constructed gender roles, which define mothers as caregivers and fathers as wage earners, and which limit women's agency regarding childcare decisions, among other things, create considerable gaps when it comes to meeting child nutrition, education, and health care needs following a maternal death. Additionally, our findings show that maternal deaths have differential effects on boy and girl children, and exacerbate specific risks for girl children, including early marriage, early pregnancy, and school drop-out. To combat both MM, and to mitigate impacts on children, investment in health services interventions should be complemented by broader interventions regarding social protection, as well as aimed at shifting social norms and opportunity structures regarding gendered divisions of labor and power at household, community, and society levels.

Topics: Age, Gender, Girls, Boys, Gender Roles, Households, Livelihoods Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Ethiopia, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania

Year: 2015

Women, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Deforestation: a Cross-National Study


Shandra, John M., Carrie L. Shandra, and Bruce London. 2008. “Women, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Deforestation: A Cross-National Study.” Population and Environment 30 (1-2): 48–72.

Authors: John M. Shandra, Carrie L. Shandra, Bruce London


There have been several cross-national studies published in the world polity theoretical tradition that find a strong correlation between nations with high levels of environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and low levels of various forms of environmental degradation. However, these studies neglect the role that women’s NGOs potentially play in this process. We seek to address this gap by conducting a cross-national study of the association between women’s NGOs and deforestation. We examine this relationship because deforestation often translates into increased household labor, loss of income, and impaired health for women and, as a result, women’s non-governmental organizations have become increasingly involved in dealing with these problems often by protecting forests. We use data from a sample of 61 nations for the period of 1990–2005. We find substantial support for world polity theory that both high levels of women’s and environmental NGOs per capita are associated with lower rates of deforestation. We also find that high levels of debt service and structural adjustment are correlated with higher rates of forest loss. We conclude with a discussion of findings, policy implications, and possible future research directions.

Keywords: deforestation, women, non-governmental organizations, cross-national

Topics: Economies, Environment, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, NGOs Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries, Central America, North America, South America, Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Baltic states, Balkans, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Oceania Countries: Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Year: 2008


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