Gender Agricultural competitiveness in Zimbabwe
The Royal Netherlands Embassy conducted the first Economic Governance Series meeting previously known as CSO Economic Governance Roundtable. The topic of this discussion was “Gender & Agricultural Competitiveness in Zimbabwe”. Dr Chingarande a specialist was the speaker at this event and she gave a few introductory remarks.
The researches that were done show that there is gender discrimination on the way women are allocated land in all areas of Zimbabwe. This was greatly attributed to the cultural beliefs and the perceptions of people in Zimbabwe. Large pieces of land are owned by men, women are only allocated pieces of land by their husbands. Do women have access to land?
Gender and crop choice
In all areas were research was conducted it showed that cash crops were owned by men. Men prioritise market value whilst women prioritise feeding the families. The case of groundnuts, in any normal situation are referred to as a women’s crop. However it also differs when there is a readily available market where men tend to have ownership of the groundnuts. Reproductive and gender roles were noted to be a great contributor to the crop choice for both men and women.
Post-harvest management process
A gendered process which mainly looks at who does what as a female or as a male. In the different communities of Zimbabwe women are well known to be great pickers of produce than men because they are fast as well as careful. Therefore in the agricultural sector of Zimbabwe more women are employed as produce pickers and most men are in the decision making level. Division of labour is done with men being involved in activities that require their masculinity (heavy lifting, digging). It was also noted that on the agriculture sector decision making where women are not involved or represented results in losses.
Politics of grain marketing
The granaries are locked whether at household level, community level or National level. In the households most women admit to keeping the keys to the granary but the decision when to unlock comes from their husbands. This results in women stealing when their husbands are not around. The research that was conducted showed that women would connive with their children to steal produce and go and sell when their husbands where not around whilst the men would also steal from the granary without the knowledge of their families. This however showed the lack of information sharing and knowledge of the importance of selling for profits in most communities.
Access to markets
The main markets were considered to be gender insensitive for example Mbare musika. This market place was considered as not conducive for women as people would have to sleep at the markets or wake up very early in the morning to gain competitiveness. However reproductive roles would limit women from these activities as they would have to take care of their families at home. Most women make use of the small local markets that produce low profits whilst the men make more profits in large market places gaining competitive advantage over the women.
It was also discussed that there is lack of information for both men and women on agricultural competitiveness in Zimbabwe, therefore the need to educate men and women to change the way they perceive the roles of men and women in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector as well as to show the country that Gender inequality in the sector affects food security. Suggestions were made on the Implementation of policies in Zimbabwe where it was noted that there is no functional agricultural policy in Zimbabwe everything is being referred to the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIM ASSET).In the ministry of Agriculture there is male domination in the decision making level, the women have no say and are not represented.
Questions from the Discussion
· Why is it that when giving women the resources but there is still lack of production and competitiveness?
· How the women are perceived when their produce becomes successful? Are they protected? (Domestic violence cases on the rise).
· What is the methodology that is being used to achieve the results? Are both men and women being involved?
· What is the definition of competitiveness?
· Can markets be localised to accommodate women’s needs.
The representatives acknowledged that engaging with traditional leaders as well as involving men in different programmes would improve gender inequality in the agricultural sector of Zimbabwe. Implementation of the agricultural policies in Zimbabwe was also viewed as a way to improve the situation.