The Fragility of Empowerment: Changing Gender Relations in a Zimbabwean Resettlement Area


Addison, Lincoln. 2019. “The Fragility of Empowerment: Changing Gender Relations in a Zimbabwean Resettlement Area.” Review of African Political Economy 46 (159): 101–16.

Author: Lincoln Addison


This article examines the fragility of women's empowerment in Sovelele, a resettlement area established through Zimbabwe's Fast Track Land Reform programme. Compared to their lives before resettlement, married women have larger plots allocated to them by husbands, exercise a higher degree of control over surplus grain and experience more joint use of resources. Single women can more easily buy and hold land in their own right. Yet, these gains are fragile because they arise out of largely unintended and changing circumstances, including the spatial dynamics of resettlement, permit-based land tenure, limited market integration and labour shortage. While attention to the conditions underlying empowerment reveals its fragility, it is not equally fragile for all women. Some women's gains may prove more resilient than others because they rest upon a deeper renegotiation of gender relations.

Keywords: land reform, gender, Zimbabwe, agricultural child labor, climate smart agriculture (CSA)

Topics: Agriculture, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Land Tenure, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 2019

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