Rapporter 2010/26

Tracing gender effects among Tanzanian rural households

Tanzania is in the process of preparing the next Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (MKUKUTA). The second phase of the poverty assessment focuses on constraints for households and individuals to make profitable investments, and differences in women's and men's opportunity structures. Given the importance of agriculture, we chose to base the current gender analysis on data from the 2002/ 03 "National Sample Census on Agriculture" (NSCA). The related 2007 "Volume IV; Gender Profile of Smallholder Agriculture Population in Tanzania Mainland" documents differences between male and female headed households along a range of dimensions. In Chapter 2 we document that male and female headed households differ systematically also with respect to other factors than the sex of the Head. Comparing households by the sex of the Head is as much a comparison of female headed households that have faced negative marital shocks with male headed households not marked by such shocks. Female headship seems to be as much an outcome as a cause, and is associated with small family size, few other adult members, and single parenthood. Female headship yields little information about family gender roles, since many of these households do not have members fully considered as "adult males". One should rather investigate the intra-household responsibilities and tasks in male-headed households, which almost always also comprises adult females. An analysis of the differences in women's and men's opportunity structures should thus not be based on a comparison of female and male headed households. Female headship is, however, a good indicator for targeting support to vulnerable households. Chapter 3 shows that household level gender variables have little influence on household livelihood categories, because these categories are too broad as to serve a basis for analysing the separate situation of men and women. Regional variations in livelihood categories are more important than household level gender factors. Chapter 4 shows, however, that gender is important for the assignment of the specific activities for each livelihood. The most important "male" activity is animal husbandry. Males also dominate all activities related to monetary transactions. The most important "female" activities are non-domestic household maintenance tasks, such as collecting firewood and water. "Female" activities generally neither involve monetary issues, nor have an entrepreneur dimension. Many time consuming crop production activities, such as soil preparation, crop protection, planting weeding and harvesting are "gender neutral". Gender roles may change under certain circumstances: While women are hardly ever responsible for "male" activities in male headed households, they are responsible for these activities in female headed households, most likely due to the absence of adult males. On the other hand, men rarely become responsible for "female" tasks, regardless of the sex of the Head. When there is a male Head, the household almost always has female members to perform female tasks. Only those few men living alone become responsible for female tasks. Our analysis show that men very rarely take on traditionally "female" tasks, and attitudes to gender roles may be very difficult to change. Policies designed at reducing women's work burden in domestic activities and in providing their households with water and energy may thus be the best approach in the short run. This will allow women to spend more time on growing their own crops, and engage in innovative income-generating activities. However, policies aiming at introducing new crops and new farming techniques also change gender roles in an often unpredictable manner. A proper understanding of this dynamics requires both data on individuals, on specific female crops, and preferably also panel data, such as in the currently ongoing Tanzania Panel Data Survey.

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