Gender, Land and Labour Relations and Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa in the Era of Economic Liberalisation: Towards a Research Agenda


Tsikata, Dzodzi. 2009. “Gender, Land and Labour Relations and Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa in the Era of Economic Liberalisation: Towards a Research Agenda.” Feminist Africa, no. 12, 11-30.

Author: Dzodzi Tsikata


The promotion of secure livelihoods rooted in equitable and viable land and labour systems is a longstanding concern which has become even more urgent in the present conjuncture of global food, fuel and financial crises. These crises have exposed once again the challenges of making a living – jobless economic growth; the growth of the informal economy and informal, casual and poorly paid work; land tenure and labour insecurities and poor livelihood outcomes for the majority of people in Africa. Even more critically, the crises have highlighted the different experiences of people on the basis of the permutations of their different identities, social relations and situations – region, country, citizenship, migration status, rural or urban location, class, gender, kinship and generation. This is not unexpected given that these markers are also those which structure access to and control of livelihood resources including labour. What is unexpected is the long-term failure to take these differences into account in policy making. While recognising all these differences, it is the gendered nature of land and labour relations in the making of livelihoods which is the focus of this article. This article argues that land tenure and labour issues have often been discussed separately. As a result, two insufficiently interconnected bodies of literature have been generated which offer useful but partial insights into the implications of gender inequalities in labour relations and resource tenures for women’s livelihoods. The article demonstrates the need to make conceptual linkages between land and labour issues and draws attention to some literature which does so. This is on the basis that such an approach is critical for policy efforts to tackle the enormous livelihood challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa’s women in both rural and urban areas in the era of economic liberalisation.

Topics: Class, Economies, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land Tenure, Governance, Livelihoods, Political Economies, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa

Year: 2009

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