Land Grabs, Women’s Farming, and Women’s Activism in Africa


Koopman, Jeanne, and Iba Mar Faye. 2012. “Land Grabs, Women’s Farming, and Women’s Activism in Africa.” In International Conference on Global Land Grabbing II. Ithaca, NY. 

Authors: Jeanne Koopman, Iba Mar Faye



This paper develops a simple model of the inner workings of the African agrarian household as a means of analyzing how exploitative policies, including land grabs, affect household heads, dependent males, and women differently. It argues that the analysis of the relations of production and distribution within household is highly relevant to understanding the reactions of these three different groups both to land grabs and to different proposals for land reform. Defining surplus as that part of a product or service that is not retained by the producer, the second part of the paper tries to show just how the agrarian surplus has been extracted from households. It argues that the concentration of the rural household surplus in the hands of a patriarchal household head both facilitates surplus extraction by external agents (states and transnational corporations) and exacerbates differences in interests between women and men. The third part of the paper attempts to show how an analysis of household relations of production can help us better understand differences in how household heads, dependent males and women farmers are likely to perceive their own interests when threatened by different types of land grabs and when assessing differing proposals for land reform. The framework helps clarify why women farmers’ interests are so often ignored in land reform processes and how risky it can be for women farmers from poor households to join the struggle for women’s land rights.” (Koopman and Faye, 2012, p. 1).

Topics: Civil Society, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Households, Land Grabbing, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Africa

Year: 2012

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