The Gendering of a Farming System. A study of the relationship between gender and agricultural production in Ghana.
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Gender issues have increasingly been given attention to in research on agriculture and farming systems. Prior to the 1970s, gender was rarely addressed, as economic activities and more technical descriptions were prioritized in farming system research. However, as the approach developed to emphasise a more holistic understanding of various production environments, gender was included. This thesis is based on a two-month long fieldwork in the area of Essiam and Denkyira in the Central Region in Ghana in 2017. The empirical data produced during the field work has been complimented by a theoretical framework including concepts such as farming system and sustainable livelihood approach, institutions and gender. The objective of this study has been to explore how gender is a factor influencing roles, responsibilities, rights and duties in the farming system in this particular study area. This is addressed through the research question: How does gender influence the agricultural production in farming households in Essiam and Denkyira? The study identifies the farming system of Essiam and Denkyira as a complex and diverse system consisting of several connected units that are influencing both each other and the agricultural production. The study points to a gender division of labour within the farming system, as men and women hold different roles and responsibilities due to perceived physical differences and socially constructed norms about appropriate behaviour; men performing specific ‘male tasks’ and women performing ‘female tasks’. A gender division of decision- making is also found: Women have the power to influence certain decisions in the household, but men are nonetheless in charge of most of the decisions regarding agricultural production. Both male and female farmers are found to have formal rights to access various important productive resources necessary for agricultural production, but women’s manoeuvring space for accessing these resources are found to be limited due to gender roles and norms about gender appropriate behaviour in the farming system. Female farmers are especially limited in the access to labour – a resource determining how much land (and other resources) they are able to obtain. As there are limitations in what tasks women can perform, female farmers are in need of mobilising labour that can assist them in the performance of agricultural tasks. The ability female farmers have to mobilise this labour is found to be depending on their economic capital and social capital in the form of male social relations that can assist them in the negotiation of access to such human resources.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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