Gender and Agricultural Development in Zambia, 1890-1990

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Mwansa, Dorothy
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The University of Zambia
This study investigates the extent to which both sexes participated in Zambia’s agricultural development from 1890-1990. Utilising primary and secondary sources of information and analysing data qualitatively, the study examines gender roles in agriculture in the colonial and post-colonial periods. It is argued that prior to the advent of colonialism, gender roles in agriculture among the country’s ethnic groups were well defined and that the prosperity of the African husbandman depended on this sexual division of labour in farming. The study also examines the impact of colonialism on these gender roles in farming. It is argued that within a few years of the British South Africa’s Company occupation of the territory in 1890, certain policies were formulated by the company. The study demonstrates that because of these policies, a radical change in the sexual division of labour was stimulated. It is argued that even under the rule of the Colonial Office, policies that negatively impacted on gender roles in farming were formulated. Females were not perceived as farmers and ultimately female headed households were not included in the African agricultural schemes established in the territory in the post-Second World War period. The study also examines the efforts made by the Government of the Republic of Zambia to address gender imbalances in the agricultural sector. It is demonstrated that legacies from the colonial period were perpetuated in the post-colonial period and male farmers continued receiving more favours from the state than females. It is argued, in the study that agricultural education, extension, research and donor funded projects, for the most part favoured males as opposed to females. Although some successes were recorded in the way of bridging gender imbalances in the agricultural sector, they were minimal. The study attempts to identify the bottlenecks that stood in the way of reducing gender imbalances in the agricultural sector. It is argued that among other bottlenecks, male-female relationships in which males were deemed a superior sex was a factor in reducing gender imbalances in the sector. Despite these constraints, some women responded positively to the opportunities that they were accorded to become part of the country’s agricultural development through different institutions. These institutions included women’s farming cooperatives and Women’s Clubs. The vi study demonstrates that in spite of the efforts made to narrow the gender gap in the country’s agricultural sector, by 1990, the gender divide was still visible. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am greatly indebted to many people and institutions that contributed to the success of this study. My sincere thanks go to Professor B. J. Phiri for supervising the work. I thank him so much for encouraging me not to give up in spite of the personal problems I had during the period of study. Thanks so much, Professor for encouraging me not to give up, but rather to soldier on. You constantly told me, “No condition is permanent. It shall be well someday.” I shall, forever remember your wise counsel. My sincere gratitude to Professor Ackson M. Kanduza for agreeing to be my Co-supervisor after Doctor C. M. Chabatama passed on. Criticisms and advice from my two supervisors greatly inspired me. My sincere thanks also go to all members of staff in the Department of History for their comments on my research proposal. Their comments helped me decide which direction my thesis should take. My gratitude goes to members of staff of Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI), formerly Mount Makulu Central Research Station for helping me access the many documents I needed for my study. I thank them for locating documents that had gathered dust as they had not been used ever since they were deposited into ZARI library. I would also like to express my thanks to staff of the National Archives of Zambia, the University of Zambia Library, the Gender Studies Department, UNZA; the School of Agricultural Sciences and the Institute of Economic and Social Research (INESOR) for helping me access different documents. I am equally thankful to my respondents in the field for agreeing to be interviewed, mostly at short notice. Special thanks to those respondents who were too busy to be interviewed during the day because of their busy work schedules but agreed to be interviewed by phone in the evenings. Sincere thanks to Dr. K. Munyinda, Mr. M. Ndiyoi, Mr. N. Mukutu and Mr. M. Damaseke all of whom I consulted whenever I got stuck. I am greatly indebted to these four former employees of the Ministry of Agriculture for agreeing to be my respondents once again after being my respondents during my Masters of Arts field research in 1999. Special thanks to Mr. Mukutu for allowing me access to his personal library and allowing me to use, for close to two years various documents I borrowed from him. Sincere thanks, too to Mr. Ndiyoi for vii availing me with a lot of information on-line. Thanks so much to him for the ARPT data base from which I extracted a lot of valuable information. Many thanks go to my sponsor, the University of Zambia Staff Development Committee for accepting my application for a University of Zambia scholarship without which it would have been very expensive and difficult for me to conduct my research. I sincerely thank my son, Ken Mudenda (Jr.), my siblings, nieces, the rest of my family and colleagues for being with me throughout my period of study. Special thanks to my late father who, at the height of his illness kept on encouraging me not to be discouraged by his illness but rather concentrate on my studies. He was an inspiration and never forgot to find out from me how my studies were progressing even when he could just whisper due to being in excruciating pain.
Gender--Zambia , Women in agriculture.--Zambia , Women agricultural laborers. , Agricultural development projects