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Carleton University (1999)

’Walking where men walk’ : the gendered politics of land, labour and soils in Maragoli, western Kenya

Verma, Ritu

Titre : ’Walking where men walk’ : the gendered politics of land, labour and soils in Maragoli, western Kenya

Auteur : Verma, Ritu

Université de soutenance : Carleton University

Grade : Master of Arts (M.A.) 1999

In a precarious economic environment heightened by the need for cash, farmers’ ability to sustain the soils and meet their broader livelihood requirements have increasingly come under threat. Research in Maragoli, western Kenya, shows that women are predominantly the farmers and sustainers of the soil and have extensive knowledge and expertise regarding their environments. However, many carry out this role within inequitable gendered power relations. Economically poor women and those in the early stages of marital life are particularly over-burdened by labour demands and increased responsibilities for providing cash to meet day-to-day needs such as paying for school fees, health services and food. Because women are increasingly juggling numerous priorities and occupations, their ability to sustain the soils through labour-intensive practices is undermined. Nevertheless, in an intensively farmed area where there are no options for withdrawing their labour into commercial farms or available individual land, women do not completely withdraw their labour from farming, but invest in soil management practices by strategically placing their labour, efforts and time in micro-niches and enterprises where they control land, labour and its product. Further, they engage in many off-farm enterprises, activities and social relations in order to negotiate space to manouevre and diversify their channels for accessing resources to meet both on-farm and off-farm requirements. This case study demonstrates that rather than being a simple function of population pressure and ’ignorance’ soil degradation is embedded in social and gender relations at the local level, which themselves are inseparable from broader processes such as structural adjustment policies, and mediated by inequitable north-south relations and ’development’ discourse. These broader processes have in fact, escalated gender politics and contestation of local gender relations and have intensified women’s struggles over access to and control of resources, and in turn, have shaped strategies of agricultural production and soil management.

Sujets : Women — Social Conditions — Working Class Women — Land Use, Rural — Maragoli — Women In Agriculture — Feminism — Patriarchy

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Page publiée le 19 janvier 2017, mise à jour le 30 août 2019