Examining women’s lived experiences in the patterns of gender division of labour in crop production : a case of Birere Sub-County, Isingiro District
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This researcher aimed at understanding women’s lived experiences in gender division of labour in agriculture. The study sought to establish how women bargain their agency, and in turn how their bargaining and agency influences or is influenced by a patriarchal system of changing values, norms and beliefs. The study adopted a cross sectional data collection design using both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Respondents were selected using stratified random sampling method. Key informant interviews with Community Development Officer (CDO) of Birere Sub County and other opinion leaders, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), and Case Studies were also conducted as a means of collecting qualitative data. Quantitative data that was collected from the forty-four (44) respondents, and analysed using SPSS. Qualitative data was categorised and analysed according to themes of major variables. The study was informed by the broader feminist epistemology, and was particularly grounded in the socialist feminist theory which focuses on the broader context of social relations in the community and the Social Relations framework, as well as Post Structural feminist theories. The study also adopted the concept of ‘agency’ as promoted by post-structural feminists. The study made several findings some of which are elabourated in the following text. It was discovered that the liberalised national economy has opened up new opportunities. As a direct result, majority of men are migrating to urban areas to take up new income generating opportunities such as boda boda (motorcycle taxis) riding. As such there is increasing feminization of agriculture. Women remain in the rural areas labouring in agriculture as well as in reproductive and community work without the proportional authority to take decisions regarding household resources. Furthermore, agriculture is undergoing transformation; from being predominantly subsistence to being commercial and also, gender division of labour does not apply to all women to the same degree. Traditional beliefs and customary norms and values have in the past barred women from inheriting property, benefitting from education and skills training and effectively made them dependent on men in their lives. As such women have been rendered resource poor. Thus, deprived of endowments such as land with which to create entitlements, women’s bargaining in the household is weak. Women who jointly participate in crop production with their husbands experienced constraints such as limited access and control of incomes generated from produce sales, denial of access and control of produce sales, inadequate decision making on crop production and heavy work load since they had to engage in crop production alongside domestic chores. A few women who accessed land for crop production through personal entitlement had control over the produce and enough bargain power for reduction in their share of agricultural labour by hiring workers. The study reveals that gender division of labour in agriculture is subject to several men’s resistance to whatever change could take place. The study also revealed that without control and ownership of household productive resources, and decision-making power, women have no real power and cannot exercise their full agency. This study concludes that women’s heavy workload as compared to that of men, and unequal gender division of labour, is no longer subject to traditional cultural norms, values, beliefs alone, nor is it subject to legal provisions in the laws of Uganda.