Gendered Negotiation: Women’s access to agricultural resources in southwest Burkina Faso and its impact on household food security

Authors: Millie Varley*, Macalester College
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Gender, Africa
Keywords: feminist political ecology, development, West Africa, bargaining power, agricultural resources
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Proteus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Development institutions such as the World Bank, USAID, and the Bill are Melinda Gates Foundation are increasingly vocal about the importance of women’s inclusion in development initiatives, but the lack of context-specific empirics mean this emphasis on gender can result in more ‘lip service’ than real impact. In particular, women are frequently the focus of food security programs because of their traditional role in food procurement, production, and preparation. Without an understanding of the gendered power dynamics influencing food access, availability, and uses at the local, regional, and global scales, however, these projects can reinforce or intensify existing inequalities. This research seeks to offer recommendations for development projects aiming to increase food security in southwest Burkina Faso through meaningful recognition of gendered access to agricultural resources. My findings are based on semi-structured interviews with 150 women rice farmers from five different villages around Bobo-Dioulasso that explored basic household characteristics, household food security, and the woman’s personal access to agricultural inputs, compared to that of the household head. I focus on land tenure, compost, and labor as critical inputs and explore the statistical links between access to these resources and household food security. Further, I rely on the multi-scalar perspective to uncover the influence of community norms, state policy, and global gender biases on women’s power to bargain for agricultural resources. Finally, I offer recommendations for the design of development programs in this area based on my findings.

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