Southern Africa

Still in the Shadows: Women and Gender Relations in the Electricity Sector in South Africa


Annecke, Wendy. 2009. “Still in the Shadows: Women and Gender Relations in the Electricity Sector in South Africa.” In Electric Capitalism: Recolonising Africa on the Power Grid, edited by David McDonald, 288–320. Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council.

Author: Wendy Annecke


“The use of a reticulated electricity system to light up 16 street lights and a few public buildings in Kimberley in 1872 provides the entry point for this study of gender relations in South Africa. In this chapter I posit the difference between electricity as a current of moving electrons and electrification as a technology embedded in social processes—including that of relations between men and women” (Annecke 2012, 288).

Topics: Gender, Women, Men, Gendered Power Relations, Infrastructure, Energy Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2009

Intersections of Gender and Water: Comparative Approaches to Everyday Gendered Negotiations of Water Access in Underserved Areas of Accra, Ghana and Cape Town, South Africa


Harris, L., D. Kleiber, J. Goldin, A. Darkwah, and C. Morinville. 2016. "Intersections of Gender and Water: Comparative Approaches to Everyday Gendered Negotiations of Water Access in Underserved Areas of Accra, Ghana and Cape Town, South Africa." Journal of Gender Studies 26 (5): 561-82.

Authors: L. Harris, D. Kleiber, J. Goldin, A. Darkwah, C. Morinville


A large and growing body of literature suggests that women and men often have differentiated relationships to water access, uses, knowledges, governance, and experiences. From a feminist political ecology perspective, these relationships can be mediated by gendered labour practices (within the household, at the community level, or within the workplace), socio-cultural expectations (e.g. related to notions of masculinity and femininity), as well as intersectional differences (e.g. race, income, and so forth). While these relationships are complex, multiple, and vary by context, it is frequently argued that due to responsibility for domestic provision or other pathways, women may be particularly affected if water quality or access is compromised. This paper reports on a statistical evaluation of a 478 household survey conducted in underserved areas of Accra, Ghana and Cape Town, South Africa in early 2012. Interrogating our survey results in the light of the ideas of gender differentiated access, uses, knowledges, governance, and experiences of water, we open up considerations related to the context of each of our study sites, and also invite possible revisions and new directions for these debates. In particular, we are interested in the instances where differences among male and female respondents were less pronounced than expected. Highlighting these unexpected results we find it helpful to draw attention to methods – in particular we argue that a binary male–female approach is not that meaningful for the analysis, and instead, gender analysis requires some attention to intersectional differences (e.g. homeownership, employment, or age). We also make the case for the importance of combining qualitative and quantitative work to understand these relationships, as well as opening up what might be learned by more adequately exploring the resonances and tensions between these approaches.

Keywords: Ghana, South Africa, gender, water, methods, triangulation, intersectionality

Topics: Feminisms, Feminist Political Ecology, Gender, Gender Analysis, Governance, Households, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Intersectionality, Livelihoods Regions: Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana, South Africa

Year: 2016

Women's Vulnerability to Climate Change: Gender-skewed Implications on Agro-based Livelihoods in Rural Zvishavane, Zimbabwe


Chidakwa, Patience, Clifford Mabhena, Blessing Mucherera, Joyline Chikuni, and Chipo Mudavanhu. 2020. "Women's Vulnerability to Climate Change: Gender-skewed Implications on Agro-based Livelihoods in Rural Zvishavane, Zimbabwe." Indian Journal of Gender Studies 27 (2): 259-81.

Authors: Patience Chidakwa, Clifford Mabhena, Blessing Mucherera, Joyline Chikuni, Chipo Mudavanhu


Climate change presents a considerable threat to human security, with notable gender disproportions. Women's vulnerability to climate change has implications on agro-based livelihoods, especially the rural populace. The primary purpose of this study was to assess women's vulnerability to climate change and the gender-skewed implications on agro-based livelihoods in rural Zvishavane, Zimbabwe. A qualitative approach that used purposive sampling techniques was adopted. Data was collected through 20 in-depth interviews with 11 de jure and 9 de facto small-scale female-headed farmer households. Two focus group discussions with mixed de facto and de jure small-scale female-headed farmer households were also conducted. Five key informant interviews were held with departmental heads of the Ministry of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development; the Agriculture Technical Extension Service Department; the Livestock Production Department; the Runde Rural District Council and the Meteorological Services Department. Gendered effects were noted in terms of increased roles and responsibilities for women. Observations showed that there was an increase in distances travelled by women to fetch water owing to a depleted water table. Climate-induced migration of men due to depleted livelihoods in rural areas has also increased roles and responsibilities for women. The traditional male responsibilities assumed by women included cattle herding and ox-driven ploughing. This study concluded that adaptation strategies towards vulnerability to climate change have to be gender-sensitive and area-specific. This study also recommended that response programmes and policies meant to curb existing gendered vulnerabilities should be informed by evidence because climate-change effects are unique for different geographical areas. Moreover, adaptation activities should be mainstreamed in community processes so as to reduce the burden on women and increase sustainability opportunities.

Keywords: de facto household head, de jure household head, gender, smallholder farmers, vulnerability, climate change

Topics: Agriculture, Displacement & Migration, Climate Displacement, Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Gender Roles, Households, Livelihoods, Security, Human Security Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 2020

Analysis of Gender Responsiveness of Climate Change Response Strategies in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region


Nyahunda, Louis, Jabulani Calvin Makhubele, Vincent Mabvurira, and Frans Koketso Matlakala. 2019. "Analysis of Gender Responsiveness of Climate Change Response Strategies in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region." E-Bangi Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities 16 (9).

Authors: Louis Nyahunda, Jabulani Calvin Makhubele, Vincent Mabvurira, Frans Koketso Matlakala


This paper sought to explore the gender responsiveness of climate change response strategies in the Southern African Development Community region. There is undisputable acknowledgement that all SADC countries are vulnerable to climate change impacts despite their low contribution to carbon gas emissions that cause climate change. Women are more encumbered by climate change effects than men due to poverty, low literacy levels, lack of adaptive capacity, ascribed gender roles and cultural discrimination patterns that promote patriarchal dominance. Arguably, the gendered differential vulnerability between women and men to climate change impacts is absent in most climate policy frameworks in SADC. The objective of the study was to establish the responsiveness of climate change policies to gender dimensions in the SADC region. The study followed a literature review as research methodology. Secondary data sources were purposively reviewed through the selection of relevant sources by the researchers which led to the identification of other sources guided by common themes and keywords. Data was analysed through the discourse analysis. The study established that most climate change response strategies in SADC demonstrated apt consideration of the roles of women in climate change mitigation and adaptation. It was concluded that women are recognised as vulnerable populations and their contribution in devising sustainable climate change solutions is overlooked at policy levels. The study recommended that climate change interventions can only be effective when they mainstream gender and acknowledge the contribution of women as agents of social change and most SADC countries are still lagging behind.

Keywords: gender responsiveness, climate change, climate change response strategies, SADC, ecofeminism theory

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Education, Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Gender, Gender Roles, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy Regions: Africa, Southern Africa

Year: 2019

Engendering Care: HIV, Humanitarian Assistance in Africa and the Reproduction of Gender Stereotypes


Mindry, Deborah. 2010. "Engendering Care: HIV, Humanitarian Assistance in Africa and the Reproduction of Gender Stereotypes." Culture, Health & Sexuality 12 (5): 555-68.


Author: Deborah Mindry


This paper draws upon recent research in Durban, South Africa to unravel the complexities of care ethics in the context of humanitarian aid. It investigates how the gendering of care shapes the provision of aid in the context of the HIV in Africa constructing an image of ‘virile’ and ‘violent’ African masculinity. Humanitarian organisations construct imagined relations of caring, invoking notions of a shared humanity as informing the imperative to facilitate change. This paper draws on varied examples of research and NGO activity to illustrate how these relations of care are strongly gendered. Humanitarian interventions that invoke universalising conceptions of need could instead draw on feminist care ethics that seeks to balance rights, justice and care in ways that attend to the webs of relationships through which specific lived realities are shaped. Essentialising feminised discourses on care result in a skewed analysis of international crises that invariably construct women (and children) as victims in need of care, which at best ignore the lived experiences of men and, at worst, cast men as virile and violent vectors of disease and social disorder.
Cet article s'inspire d'une récente recherche à Durban, en Afrique du Sud, pour révéler les complexités de l'éthique des soins dans le contexte de l'aide humanitaire. Il examine la manière dont l'intégration des notions de genre aux soins détermine l'approvisionnement en aide dans le contexte du VIH en Afrique, en conceptualisant une image de la masculinité africaine «virile» et «violente». Les organisations humanitaires conceptualisent des relations imaginées du soin, basées sur des notions d'humanité solidaire qui informent l'impératif de la facilitation du changement. Cet article s'inspire d'exemples variés de recherche et d'activité des ONG pour illustrer l'intensité avec laquelle ces relations de soins sont basées sur le genre. Les interventions humanitaires qui invoquent l'universalisation des conceptions des besoins devraient plutôt s'inspirer de l'éthique féministe des soins, qui cherche à équilibrer les droits, la justice et les soins de manière à assister les réseaux des relations à travers lesquelles les réalités spécifiques vécues sont définies. L'essentialisation des discours féminisés sur les soins a pour résultat une analyse faussée des crises internationales qui, de manière invariable, conceptualisent les femmes (et les enfants) comme des victimes nécessitant des soins et, au mieux, ignorent les expériences vécues des hommes; au pire, représentent ces derniers comme des vecteurs virils et violents de la maladie et du désordre social.
Este artículo se basa en los recientes estudios en Durban, Sudáfrica, que revelan las complejidades de la ética asistencial en el contexto de la ayuda humanitaria. Analizamos cómo la cuestión del género en la asistencia determina la concesión de ayudas en el contexto del VIH en África construyendo una imagen de masculinidad africana ‘viril’ y ‘violenta. Las organizaciones humanitarias construyen relaciones imaginarias de asistencia invocando nociones de una humanidad compartida que hace imperativo facilitar cambios. En este artículo presentamos varios ejemplos de investigaciones y de las actividades de las ONG para ilustrar cómo estas relaciones de asistencia vienen determinadas en gran medida por el sexo. Las intervenciones humanitarias que invocan conceptos universales de necesidad podrían basarse mejor en la ética de asistencia feminista que intenta equilibrar los derechos, la justicia y la asistencia prestando atención a las redes de relaciones que forman las realidades específicas vividas. Los discursos feministas que esencializan la atención llevan a un análisis sesgado de las crisis internacionales que invariablemente caracteriza a las mujeres (y niños) como víctimas que necesitan cuidados y, en el mejor de los casos, ignora las experiencias vividas por los hombres y, en el peor, representa a los hombres como vectores viriles y violentos de trastornos sociales y enfermedades.

Keywords: gender, Africa, masculinity, HIV/AIDS, humanitarian aid

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Health, HIV/AIDS, Humanitarian Assistance, NGOs Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2010

Gender-Biased Street Naming in Urban Sub-Saharan Africa: Influential Factors, Features and Future Recommendations


Zuvalinyenga, Dorcas, and Liora Bigon. 2020. "Gender-Biased Street Naming in Urban Sub-Saharan Africa: Influential Factors, Features and Future Recommendations." Journal of Asian and African Studies. doi:10.1177/0021909620934825.

Authors: Dorcas Zuvalinyenga, Liora Bigon


This article explores the present-day problematic of gender-biased street names as prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa’s cityscapes. That is, the abundance of masculine street names as opposed to feminine ones in the urban environments of this region. The article first provides a comparative view on the scope of this toponymic phenomenon in other geographic regions with relation to sub-Saharan Africa. It also identifies few decisive factors in the creation of the gender-biased urban landscapes in sub-Saharan Africa. These factors consist of: recent tendencies in critical toponymy studies; colonial and post-colonial cultures of governmentality; and inadequate urban planning legislation and vision as pertained by post-colonial states. This toponymic problematic is then exemplified in a site-specific analysis of the city of Bindura in north-eastern Zimbabwe. The article concludes with recommendations for designing a more socially inclusive urban management policy in the region, pointing to future research directions of this under-studied phenomenon in critical place-name studies.

Keywords: gender-biased street names, Sub-Saharan Africa, Bindura/Zimbabwe, urban planning, urban management, Critical toponymy studies

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Governance, Infrastructure, Transportation, Urban Planning Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 2020

Applying a Gender Lens to Reduce Disaster Risk in Southern Africa: The Role of Men’s Organisations


Forbes-Biggs, Kylah. 2020. "Applying a Gender Lens to Reduce Disaster Risk in Southern Africa: The Role of Men’s Organisations." In How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences, edited by Marian Sawer, Fiona Jenkins, and Karen Downing, 169-76. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Author: Kylah Forbes-Biggs


Gender inequality has been a pervasive problem in Southern Africa. It challenges development and welfare, dissuades good governance practices and entrenches social vulnerabilities that contribute to increased disaster and climate risk. The decisive shift towards focusing on women and girls not only in development but also in disaster risk management has been successful in bringing critical issues to the fore at national and international levels. Yet it can overlook the needs of men and boys and hence forego opportunities for more inclusive discussion and collaboration. The case is being made in Southern Africa to involve men’s organisations in promoting social justice. Creating spaces for dialogue in this way will promote understanding of gendered vulnerability and disaster risk.

Keywords: men's organisations, gender inequality, vulnerability, disaster risk, open dialogue, Southern Africa

Topics: Development, Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Men, Boys, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance Regions: Africa, Southern Africa

Year: 2020

Understanding Gender Dimensions of Climate-Smart Agriculture Adoption in Disaster-Prone Smallholder Farming Communities in Malawi and Zambia


Khoza, Sizwile, Dewald Van Niekerk, and Livhuwani David Nemakonde. 2019. "Understanding Gender Dimensions of Climate-Smart Agriculture Adoption in Disaster-Prone Smallholder Farming Communities in Malawi and Zambia." Disaster Prevention and Management 28 (5): 530-47.

Authors: Sizwile Khoza, Dewald Van Niekerk, Livhuwani David Nemakonde


Purpose – Through the application of traditional and contemporary feminist theories in gender mainstreaming, the purpose of this paper is to contribute to emergent debate on gender dimensions in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) adoption by smallholder farmers in disaster-prone regions. This is important to ensure that CSA strategies are tailored to farmer-specific gender equality goals. 
Design/methodology/approach – An exploratory-sequential mixed methods research design which is qualitatively biased was applied. Key informant interviews and farmer focus group discussions in two study sites formed initial qualitative phase whose findings were explored in a quantitative cross-sectional household survey. 
Findings – Findings shared in this paper indicate the predominant application of traditional gender mainstreaming approaches in CSA focusing on parochial gender dichotomy. Qualitative findings highlight perceptions that western gender approaches are not fully applicable to local contexts and realities, with gender mainstreaming in CSA seemingly to fulfil donor requirements, and ignorant of the heterogeneous nature of social groups. Quantitative findings establish that married men are majority adopters and nonadopters of CSA, while dis-adopters are predominantly de jure female household heads. The latter are more likely to adopt CSA than married women whose main role in CSA is implementers of spouse’s decisions. Access to education, intra-household power relations, productive asset and land ownership are socio-cultural dynamics shaping farmer profiles. 
Originality/value – By incorporating African feminisms and intersectionality in CSA, value of this study lies in recommending gender policy reforms incorporating local gender contexts within the African socio-cultural milieu. This paper accentuates potential benefits of innovative blend of both contemporary and classic gender mainstreaming approaches in CSA research, practice and technology development in disaster-prone regions.

Keywords: agriculture, climate change adaptation, DRR, climate-smart agriculture adoption, gender and DRRM, gender policy

Topics: Agriculture, Education, Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Households, Intersectionality Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi, Zambia

Year: 2019

Enhancing Resilience of Women to Hazards through Mainstreaming Gender into Disaster Risk Reduction Policies in Botswana


Moyo, Nkosiyabo F. 2019. "Enhancing Resilience of Women to Hazards through Mainstreaming Gender into Disaster Risk Reduction Policies in Botswana." PhD diss., North-West University.

Author: Nkosiyabo F. Moyo


The absence of a gender perspective in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a matter of serious concern for both research and practice. This is despite overwhelming evidence that women are disproportionately affected by disasters. During the past decade, there has been a worldwide alarming increase in the impact and frequency of disasters, especially hydro-meteorological hazards (heavy rain storms) as a result of climate change. It is estimated that two-thirds of the world's disasters are related to climate change (Mitchell and van Aalst, 2008:1). Likewise, Botswana is currently experiencing an increase in the number of localised disasters climatological as well as non climatological disasters, which hardly reached global headlines, but silently and persistently eroded the capacities of Batswana to survive and prosper. However, these disasters did not affect people equally. Women, especially those in rural female-headed households were profoundly impacted the most. In Botswana and other developing countries, existing and entrenched social inequalities contribute to the disparity in vulnerability. As a result Women are at a greater disadvantage, even before a disaster strikes, due to the implications of inequalities and how they manifest and influence existing historical, social, cultural, economic and political conditions in Botswana.

Generally, there is paucity of research on sex and gender differences regarding vulnerability to disasters. The limited data available suggests a pattern of gender differentiation in the various phases of disaster risk reduction. While studies in DRR include gender as demographic variable, they provide only basic information on gender, but do not engage in any thorough explanation or analysis of women’s experiences in a disaster situation. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of disasters on women in Botswana and provide concrete recommendations on how to address the practical (food, shelter, income) and strategic (human rights, skills and leadership training) gender needs and interests of women, without necessarily alienating men. This would help realise Vision 2036, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve these goals, it was posited that gender issues should be mainstreamed into DRR. 

Based on the premise above, the study examined the origins and the evolution of the concepts of disaster, gender and mainstreaming. It also examined best international practices in these fields. Such practices were analysed and discussed from within a global perspective and operationalised to Botswana's context. Following a qualitative design, the research used focus group discussions of households affected by disasters and subject-matter specialists (practitioners, scholars, politicians, traditional leaders and activists) to collect data. 

The findings confirmed the differential vulnerabilities between men and women and their differing adaptive capacities regarding disaster situations. These capacities were found to be influenced largely by culture and its institutional frameworks. The study affirmed the central role played by culture and institutions in marginalising women. 

Keywords: disaster risk reduction, climate-change adaptation, gender, mainstreaming, women, social vulnerability, resilience, sustainable development, Botswana

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Households, Rights, Human Rights, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Botswana

Year: 2019

A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate-Smart Agriculture Options in Southern Africa: Balancing Gender and Technology


Mutenje, Munyaradzi Junia, Cathy Rozel Farnworth, Clare Stirling, Christian Thierfelder, Walter Mupangwa, and Isaiah Nyagumbo. 2019. "A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate-Smart Agriculture Options in Southern Africa: Balancing Gender and Technology." Ecological Economics 163: 126-37.

Authors: Munyaradzi Junia Mutenje, Cathy Rozel Farnworth, Clare Stirling, Christian Thierfelder, Walter Mupangwa, Isaiah Nyagumbo


Climate change and extreme weather events undermine smallholder household food and income security in southern Africa. Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) technologies comprise a suite of interventions that aim to sustainably increase productivity whilst helping farmers adapt their farming systems to climate change and to manage risk more effectively. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and a mixed methods approach were used to assess the likelihood of investment in various CSA technology combinations. The data were drawn respectively from 1440, 696, and 1448 sample households in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, covering 3622, 2106 and 5212 maize-legume plots in these countries over two years. The cost-benefit analysis and stochastic dominance results showed that CSA options that combined soil and water conservation management practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture (CA), improved varieties, and associations of cereal-legume crop species were economically viable and worth implementing for risk averse smallholder farmers. A dynamic mixed multinomial logit demonstrated that women's bargaining power, drought shock, and access to CSA technology information positively influenced the probability of investing in CSA technology combinations. This study provides evidence of the importance of cultural context, social relevance and intra-household decision-making in tailoring suitable combinations of CSA for smallholder farmers in southern Africa.

Keywords: gender, intra-household decision-making, climate-smart agriculture, cost-benefit analysis, Southern Africa

Topics: Agriculture, Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Women, Households, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia

Year: 2019


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