The gender dimensions of the utilisation of agricultural inputs for food and income security : a case study of subsistence farming households in Goromonzi District, Zimbabwe.
Mushunje, Mildred T.
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Based on the assumptions that women’s access to and utilisation of agricultural inputs leads to an improvement in household food and income security; that women and men make rational decisions in the utilisation of agriculture inputs; and that food insecurity is a result of structural inequalities, this study sought to understand the gender dynamics of the utilisation of agricultural inputs amongst women and men farmers. Informed by critical theory, the study was undertaken in Goromonzi district which is in a province in Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe. Through convenience sampling, a total of 30 participants - 15 women and 15 men - were selected from a list of 150 farmers. Data were collected through a triangulation process of qualitative research involving semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, case studies, review of secondary data and observation. Interviews were recorded and transcribed. Data were analysed using critical discourse analysis. Emerging themes through data centred on household decision making processes in female headed and male headed households, how inputs were accessed, the influence of cultural norms and gendered stereotypes on the interactions within households and in the community and the fear of “going against the tide” in the quest for social justice. The main conclusions from the study were that gender stereotypes and social norms were key players in decision making, empowerment was a process and not a state of being, and that both women and men held responsible attitudes towards their household and felt compelled to provide for food security. Knowledge did not necessarily lead to action as all the participants had an understanding of gender issues but were not prepared to question or challenge prevailing injustices, for instance, their unwillingness to deal with the triple role of women and men’s supremacy within households and in community leadership structures. Based on the literature and the findings of this study, policy, practice and research recommendations are made, including the importance of social work engaging with sectors such as Ministries of Agriculture in order to address emerging issues on gender and agriculture. This was of particular importance in light of on-going discussion around climate change, which has been seen to affect women more profoundly than men, the role of social protection strategies related to food and nutrition security, and the potential contribution of critical and emancipatory approaches in challenging and undoing the normalisation of gender injustice.