On-farm land restoration and Intrahousehold Gender Dynamics : risks and opportunities for gender equality in the drylands of eastern Kenya

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Mary Crossland, Ana Maria Paez Valencia, Tim Pagella, Christine Magaju, Esther Kuira, Leigh Winoweicki and Fergus Sinclair

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In the context of a project that tested land restoration options selected by communities across different conditions and locations, we examined the trial of two on-farm restoration practices: tree planting and planting basins; with over 2,500 farmers in the eastern drylands of Kenya. With the objective of identifying synergies and mitigating potential trade-offs between land restoration and gender equality, the study combined results from household surveys, interviews and focus group discussions, to assess changes in women and men’s time use and labour, control over resources and benefits, and decision-making dynamics. Our findings revealed that although restorative practices may increase women’s labour burden these can still be seen as worthwhile, as farmers, especially women, may value costs and benefits differently and perceive that the benefits outweigh the labour requirements. Furthermore, changes in social norms around the gender division of labor in the studied communities are creating opportunities for women to take up restorative practices. However, gender-division of reproductive labor remains unchanged. The study also found that decisions regarding the uptake of new technologies are largely made jointly between husband and wife, and a trend towards more joint decision-making is observed in recent years, influenced by women’s increased participation in innovation processes and broader societal changes, particularly the outmigration of rural men. This study confirmed that efforts to restore agricultural land at the farm scale require a context-specific understanding of intrahousehold dynamics and that a gender-responsive design and implementation can help identify restoration options and approaches that enhance women’s empowerment.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program