Changing gender roles in diversified agropastoralism in West Pokot, Kenya

Earlier studies in drylands have shown that, while gender roles are becoming more flexible, privatisation and formalisation of land tenure tends to marginalise women, while environmental degradation leads to gender-differentiated changes in workload. Chepareria, a ward in West Pokot County, has undergone such tenure and environmental changes and is now dominated by private rangeland enclosures. Researchers from Kenya and Sweden reviewed how these enclosures influenced gender roles with regard to division of labour, financial responsibilities and decision-making processes at household level, and tried to identify the underlying driving forces that contributed to these changes.

Their results, published in “Assessing gender roles in a changing landscape: diversified pastoralism in drylands of West Pokot, Kenya” (Pastoralism 2015, 5:21), indicate that women’s workload has risen with rangeland fragmentation because of increased responsibilities in cattle herding and income generation. As a result, women have gained more influence in household economic decisions. Women are increasingly engaged in small-scale business such as keeping poultry and selling farm products, and are thus gaining greater financial independence. However, they are still excluded from certain traditionally male-dominated spheres, such as selling cattle and handling larger amounts of money.

Posted on 20 November 2015 in Pastoralism & Gender, Pastoralist Livelihoods & Nutrition