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University of Guelph (2019)

Women’s Cattle Ownership in Northwestern Botswana : “Anything you bring up with your own hands will multiply”

Must, Erin

Titre : Women’s Cattle Ownership in Northwestern Botswana : “Anything you bring up with your own hands will multiply”

Auteur : Must, Erin

Université de soutenance : University of Guelph

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2019

This dissertation applies feminist and development geography to a qualitative case study of women cattle owners in Ngamiland, Botswana. In so doing, it responds to calls for scholarship on gender and development, specifically filling knowledge gaps on gender and livestock. The ultimate aim of this research is to explore women’s ownership of and relations to cattle in Botswana in order to illuminate how power operates within the realm of gender and livestock development and to offer insights on how women’s empowerment within this realm may be enhanced. In fulfilling this aim, this dissertation also provides important local knowledge on women, particularly women cattle owners in rural northwestern Botswana. This research is timely in that it coincides with Botswana’s recent recommitment to gender mainstreaming as well as a recently released National Development Plan that outlines the importance of promoting sustainable rural livelihoods. Key findings demonstrate that many women own cattle in Botswana, despite the dominant narrative suggesting otherwise. Findings also discuss how gender roles in Botswana are simultaneously contested and reinforced through attitudes and behaviours surrounding cattle care and ownership. Further, findings reveal the ways cattle assist women in moving through new spaces or using spaces in new ways. Cattle acquisition is not the sole factor in empowerment here ; rather empowerment is found through enacting cattle activities in particular spaces, and through this action altering those spaces and the normative values previously ascribed to them. This dissertation makes both theoretical and practical contributions. Firstly, it augments current approaches to feminist political ecology by highlighting changes in spaces associated with gendered power and access. Secondly, it adds to theories of empowerment by taking space and action as key components of its conceptualization. This dissertation contributes to the development policy realm by discussing ways in which support for women’s cattle ownership can assist with both practical and strategic needs for women, and by identifying gaps in structural gender provisions that would benefit from the knowledge created here. Ultimately, researching an asset that is not traditionally affiliated with women/women’s work creates a new body of knowledge that can be drawn upon both practically and theoretically.


Page publiée le 10 octobre 2019