THE EFFECTS OF GENDER INEQUALITY ON RURAL HOUSEHOLD LIVELIHOODS DIVERSIFICATION (A CASE STUDY OF SEBAYENG VILLAGE, POLOKWANE, LIMPOPO PROVINCE)
Feminist studies show that gender inequality is an impediment for livelihoods diversification among rural households. Whereas women are understood to be the designers, planners and managers of livelihoods for household survival, their roles in diversification of the means of earning a living are generally undermined through a myriad of social and cultural laws, values, norms and beliefs. Despite the publicity, attempts and efforts in redressing gender inequality in a demographic South Africa, the dissertation argues that gender inequality in rural areas has remained persistent, posing an obstacle to the capacity of households to diversify their livelihoods.
The study uses survey results from Sebayeng Village in order to demonstrate that the community’s perceptions of women’s roles perpetuate the status quo wherein women’s capacity to diversify livelihoods are undermined. The survey involved 200 households that were sampled through the simple random design. The respondents consisted of 56.5% females and 43.5% males. The survey results demonstrate that gender inequality remains deep in Sebayeng Village and that such inequality negatively affects the ability of households to diversify their livelihoods. Therefore, this study tends to confirm the general principle that gender inequality renders women as unexplored resources in rural development. To that extent, the study concludes that one of the tests for the success in gender transformation in South Africa is in releasing the energies of women in the sphere of livelihoods diversification.
CHAPTER1: BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Introduction and Background
A greater understanding of what it means to be a woman in rural societies can be offered by exploring the social construction of gender and the articulation of feminine identities (Midgley, 2006). The social constructions in question are basically cultural and traditional norms and beliefs that are expressed in rural societies and households, whereby women and men are assigned different roles and responsibilities. Those particular roles and responsibilities bring to mind the manner in which tradition treats women and men. Generally speaking, societies view men and women differently (Wombeogo, 2007). Normally, women are excluded and limited to participate in decision making, economic activities and livelihoods diversification both in their households and their communities. These lead to women being unable to diversify their livelihoods. Lack of access to resources coupled with gender suppressive tendencies as a result of tradition could lead to high levels of poverty among women (Wombeogo, 2007).
However, in recent years there has been an increase in women participation in household livelihoods diversification. Men and women face unequal opportunities and access to productive resources, and unequal sharing of family responsibilities. Consequently, women’s presence within rural household livelihoods diversification is portrayed differently in comparison to men in terms of associations with feminine characteristics and domestic responsibilities (Midgley, 2006). Despite all these challenges, women’s participation and contribution in rural household livelihoods diversification has been recognised. For example, in most rural African countries women play a major role in agriculture; they are regarded as the heart of household livelihoods diversification. They undertake the “planting, harvesting, processing and storage of agricultural products, while men carry out the clearing of the land and
weeding” (Wombeogo, 2007, p39). Additionally, women have been associated with food crops and men with cash crops (Ellis, 1998). Similarly, women grow the staple food crops for family subsistence while men grow food for sale (Ellis, 1998). It is therefore hypothesised that women bear a greater burden in this regard.
In South Africa, livelihoods diversification are important characteristics of poor rural households (D’Hease and Kirsten, 2006). The majority of rural poor rely on livelihoods diversification to derive food and income; and, most of them utilise natural resources through agriculture, hunting, and fishing. Remittances from migrant workers, social grants, and small scale enterprises add to the contribution of livelihoods diversification in people’s lives (D’ Hease and Kirsten, 2006). In actual fact, livelihoods diversification appears to be a strategy out of poverty (Ellis, 2000).
The proposed study will adopt a view that the nature and level of gender inequality within household livelihoods diversification is based on traditional and cultural norms and beliefs of the people (Neuman, 1991; Palgi, 1994). It is in this context that the study will investigate the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification in Sebayeng village. The nature and the level of gender inequality and the types of livelihoods that are practiced in rural areas will also be taken into consideration.
Statement of the Problem
The South African society is dominated by women who are participating in triple role, namely, reproductive work which is associated with child bearing, productive work which refers to income earning and community work which is voluntary work undertaken at a local community level (D’ Hease and Kirsten, 2006). Women, unlike men, are severely burdened with simultaneously balancing these roles. Despite all these efforts only productive work is recognised as work. Reproductive and community work are both mostly viewed as natural work that women are supposed to do; hence they are undervalued (D’ Hease and Kirsten, 2006). Despite their contribution in triple role,
women remain overlooked and undermined; and, they have been left behind in the development process and are still subordinates to men (Papanek, 1990). Women have always been viewed as domestic providers for their families, supplying them with food and water; and agriculturally, they have always been viewed as major sources of labour, they are expected to undertake planting, harvesting and storage of agricultural products (Wombeogo, 2007). This indicates that women are overburdened while they still have to do their domestic work (Kunfaa, Dogbe, Mackay and Marshall, 2001).
A generally accepted observation holds that the level of gender disparities between men and women in the household and at a community level remains high despite the attempts to attain gender equality (Kabeer, 1994). Additionally, the perception of gender inequality among men and women suggests that women are likely to be disproportionately represented in the societies (Kabeer, 1994; Wombeogo, 2007). Deepening disparities across genders could lead to lack of access to resources which could consequently lead to women’s poor participation and contribution in the household livelihoods diversification.
Traditional norms provide frameworks according to which people and household members act and react to their daily lives (Neuman, 1991; Palgi, 1994). While it might not necessarily be true that culture and tradition are a stumbling block for development (Swanepoel and de Beer, 2006), it could be hypothesised that gender inequality has a negative impact on women’s ability to mobilise household resources in order to attain livelihoods diversification and to participate in the economic realm of the country. This hypothesised linkage will be tested through a case study in Sebayeng village. This particular village like many other villages in Limpopo Province is rural and deeply traditional with the majority of people holding onto cultural values and constructions of lives that are gendered. Sebayeng village is situated 30km outside the city of Polokwane. Gender inequality is prevalent in Sebayeng, and the strategies to resuscitate the subsistence local economy are completely dependent on the rural household livelihoods diversification. In a nutshell, these are the factors that demonstrate that gender inequality is a hindering factor in the pursuit of household
livelihoods diversification. And, this situation has continued to prevail because women are still suffering from lack of opportunities, access to resources, security and a voice in decision making processes, eventually affecting their ability to diversify their household livelihoods. It is in this context that the purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification.
The main research question for the study is how does gender inequality affect rural household livelihoods diversification in Sebayeng village, Limpopo Province? To operationalise the main research question, a set of four sub questions are formulated as follows:
· What are the types of household livelihoods practiced in Sebayeng village, Limpopo Province?
· What is the nature and the level of gender inequality in Sebayeng village, Limpopo Province?
· What is livelihoods diversification?
· What are the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification?
Aim and Objectives
The aim of the study is to investigate the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification in Sebayeng village, Limpopo Province. The study seeks to achieve the following objectives:
· To identify the types of household livelihoods practiced in Sebayeng village, Limpopo Province.
· To investigate the nature and level of gender inequality in Sebayeng village, Limpopo Province.
· To study livelihoods diversification in Sebayeng village, Limpopo Province.
· To study the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification in Sebayeng village, Limpopo Province.
· To recommend measures for redressing gender inequality and potentially improving the chances for livelihoods diversification in rural areas.
Definition of Terms
The study seeks to describe the following terms in order for the readers to have a clear and meaningful picture about the issues around gender inequality and rural household livelihoods diversification: gender, gender inequality, gender equality, livelihoods, and livelihoods diversification.
The concept is defined as the social differences and relations between men and women. These social differences vary widely among societies and cultures and changes overtime (International Labour Organisation, 2000). D’Hease and Kirsten (2006) defines gender as the socially constructed power relations between men and women characterised by a set of arrangements of culturally variable attributes and roles that men and women play in their daily lives. Gender refers to the qualitative and interdependent character of women and men’s positions in society (Wombeogo, 2007). According to South Africa’s national policy framework for women’s empowerment and gender equality, gender is referred to as the social roles allocated respectively to women and men in particular societies and particular times such roles and the difference between them are conditioned by a variety of political, economical, ideological and cultural factors and are characterised by an unequal power relations. The study will adopt the South African national policy framework for women’s empowerment and gender equality.
According to Sen (1990), the concept of gender inequality refers to the social constructions that result in women not having the same rights, opportunities, or privileges as men. Cleaver (1998) defines the concept as the obvious or hidden disparities between individuals. The study will therefore adopt Sen (1990)’s definition which refers to the concept of gender inequality as the social constructs that results in women not having the same rights, opportunities or privileges as men.
This concept is defined as the equality between men and women (Cleaver, 1998). According to South Africa’s national policy framework for women’s empowerment and gender equality, the concept is defined as a situation whereby women and men have equal conditions for realizing their full human rights and potential, when they are able to contribute equally to national politics, economic, social and cultural development, and benefit equally from the results. The framework continues by highlighting that the concept takes into account women's existing subordinate positions. Within social relations and aims at restructuring of society so as to eradicate male domination. Wombeogo (2007) says that gender equality is when all human beings, both men and women are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality means that different behaviours, aspirations and needs for women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally but it does not mean that women and men have to become the same but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female (International Labour Organisation, 2000). The study will adopt the definition from the South Africa’s national policy framework for women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Department For International Department (1999) defines the concepts as a combination of the resources used and activities undertaken in order to earn a living, these particular
resources might consist of individual skills and abilities, land savings and equipments. According to Mudege and Ezeh (2009) livelihoods are a dynamic realm that integrates both the opportunities and assets available to a group of people for achieving their goals and aspirations as well as interactions with and exposure to a range of beneficial or harmful ecological, social, economical, and political perturbations that may help or hinder a group’s capacity to make a living. Chambers and Conway (1992) say livelihoods comprises the capabilities, assets including material and social resources and activities required for a means of living. The study will adopt the definition from DFID (1999).
The concept is defined as the process by which rural families construct a diverse portfolio of activities and social supports capabilities in order to survive and to improve their standard of living (Scoones, 1998). Ellis (1998) referred to livelihoods diversification as a survival strategy of rural households in developing countries. Ellis (2000) continued by saying that livelihoods diversification are a pervasive enduring characteristics of rural survival, reflecting the continuing vulnerability of rural livelihood. The study will therefore adopt the definition of livelihoods diversification from Scoones (1998).
Research Design and Methodology
The study will adopt a combination of both the qualitative and quantitative research approaches. Qualitative research approach is the approach in which the procedures are not strictly formalised, while the scope is more likely to be undefined (De Vos, 1998). Additionally, Leedy (1997) defines qualitative approach as an approach that deals with data that are principally verbal. Quantitative approach is the approach used in the social sciences research that is more highly formalised as well as explicitly controlled with a
range that is more exactly defined, and which in terms of the methods used is relatively close to the physical sciences (De Vos, 1998). Leedy (1997) says that quantitative approach deals with data that are principally numerical.
The utilisation of both approaches is important because the issues around gender inequality and household livelihoods diversification involve more than just the measurable and observable factors. It also involves the feelings of the people about the nature and level of gender inequality. The qualitative approach will be used to describe the types of livelihoods that are practiced in rural areas, and the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification. The description will involve the conditions of household livelihoods diversification, livelihoods activities, and strategies within the households. Whereas the conditions of the household’s livelihoods diversification, livelihoods activities and strategies can be observed and measured, the feelings of the people about these conditions will be qualitatively described. Quantitative methods will be used for measuring and analyzing the demographic profile of men and women as well as their inequalities in access to a variety of household assets, livelihoods, and capacity for diversification.
Kinds of Data
The study requires data on both men and women about the nature and the level of gender inequality and its effects on rural household livelihoods diversification, the types of livelihoods that they practice, the biographical profile of men and women engaged in livelihoods, men and women’s perceptions and views towards the issues around gender inequality, and the measures for redressing gender inequality and improving household’s capacity for livelihoods diversification. Also information from the government’s intervention measures will be collected.
The study’s target population consists of all the households and the key informant within the Sebayeng Village. This village is about 30 km outside the city of Polokwane. Sebayeng is one of the sub-villages located in Ga-Dikgale village; this particular area falls under Kgoshi S.M Dikgale’s jurisdiction. Sebayeng village has an estimated number of 2000 households. Additionally, Sebayeng village is selected for the proposed study because it is a typical South African rural village wherein communities have continued to uphold and firmly live by their traditional and customary laws. Also, households therein continue to struggle to survive on a multiplicity of unviable livelihoods. As a result, it provides one of the most useful cases to investigate the issues of gender inequality and household livelihoods diversification.
The primary unit of analysis will be the households, and the key informant will be the Ward Councilor. The households will be surveyed through the questionnaire so as to provide the study with clear and meaningful information about the nature and the level of gender inequality and its effects on rural household livelihoods diversification. The key informant will respond to the interviews in order to provide the study with clear and meaningful information with regard to the nature and the level of gender inequality and its effects on rural household’s livelihoods diversification at a community level. Basically, the study will attempt to synthesize perspectives from the individual households with those of the key informant.
The study applies sampling at three levels: selection of the village, individual households within the village, and key informant. The village has been selected using purposive sampling for reasons explained in the preceding subsection. The study will adopt a probability sampling design for households within the village; and, this design
involves a situation whereby each person in the population has the same known probability of being selected (Seaberg, 1988). The major reason for using the probability sampling is that the researcher seeks to generalise the results of the sample to the rest of the population. Specifically, a simple random sampling method will be adopted for the selection of the households into a sample. This type of probability sampling is advantageous because it allows equal probability for each household to be selected into the sample; and, the results of the survey can be generalized to the rest of the village. As stated in the previous subsection, Sebayeng Village has an estimated number of 2000 households, and these will be arranged into a sampling frame using the official municipality stand reference numbers. From that sampling frame, the random numbers table will be used to select 10% of the households. Therefore, the plan of the study is to sample 200 households. Finally, the study will also utilise a non-probability sampling design, in particular a purposive sampling method to identify the key informant in the community. The key informant is the Councilor of the village. The key informant possesses crucial information about the dynamics of tradition, custom, gender and households within the village.
Data Collection and Analysis Procedures
Data will be collected using secondary sources from appropriate and relevant written documents such as policies, government gazettes and any published document. The primary data from the households and key informant will be used. The study will compile its conceptual framework by digesting and synthesising contributions from the system of ideas that involves the general assumptions about the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification. Such debates are primarily documented in books and journal articles. As a result, these sources will be reviewed with the purpose of identifying and analysing the system of knowledge relevant to the study. The analysis will involve disciplined reading, remembering, understanding, digesting and synthesising ideas in ways that provide a theoretical response to the primary research questions formulated in the study.
The study will involve field observations and compilations of field notes and reports. Those observations will attempt to assess the conditions of household livelihoods diversification and livelihoods activities and strategies within the households. This case study will basically involve the completion of questionnaire. In situations whereby respondents are unable to understand the language used in the questionnaire the enumerators will assist them. The enumerators will be trained in order for them to be able to respect people’s values, beliefs, and emotions. Generally, the questionnaire will try to solicit information on the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification. Additionally, the particular types of rural household livelihoods, the nature and level of gender inequality and the measures that could be adopted to redress gender inequality and improve rural household’s capacity for livelihoods diversifications. More specifically, the questionnaire will attempt to assess the information on biographical profile, nature and level of gender inequality, types of household livelihoods, and opinions of the respondents about the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification.
The interviews will be conducted with the key informant who is the Councilor in the village with the purpose of assessing the general conditions about the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification and the cultural practices in the village. The Councillor will be probed on the opinions with regard to the nature and level of gender inequality, the types of rural household livelihoods activities in Sebayeng Village.
The household data will be captured using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) in order to manipulate it and to create the summary statistics and to identify the underlying patterns. Capturing data into SPSS will involve conceptualisation of specific issues about the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification, as guided by the relevant system of knowledge. From the SPSS, frequency tables, graphs, and descriptive summary statistics such as the gender of the respondents together with the biographical profile of men and women engaged in
livelihoods will be generated and interpreted in accordance with the research focus of the study.
Structure of the Proposed Dissertation Chapter 1: Background of the study
The introduction and background of the study will be discussed. The chapter will clarify the purpose of the study, the problem statement, the research question, aim and objectives, significance of the study, and ethical considerations.
Chapter 2: gender inequality and rural livelihoods diversification in developing countries
Conceptual framework formulated from relevant system of knowledge, will be presented in Chapter 2. In this chapter, literature of the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification will be reviewed. The literature will be reviewed from journals, books and government gazettes.
Chapter 3: The importance of rural household livelihoods diversification in developing countries
This chapter will also form part of the literature review. It will discuss the importance of rural livelihoods diversification in developing countries. Both the theoretical and conceptual frameworks are adopted in this chapter.
Chapter 4: Research design and methodology
This chapter will discuss the research methodology and design used during data collection in Sebayeng. This will be done by indicating the research approach, kinds of data, target population, data collection, and analysis methods.
Chapter 5: Research findings, analysis and interpretation of data
This chapter will discuss the survey results and findings from Sebayeng and use the various techniques discussed under research design to present the findings.
Chapter 6: Summary, recommendations and conclusions
This chapter will relate the findings of the study to the general assumption analysed in Chapter 2 and 3. On this basis, this chapter will draw conclusions and make recommendations.
Significance of the Study
The study hopes to make a significant contribution in two ways. Firstly, the study could potentially improve knowledge on the interconnections between gender inequality within households and the capacity of households to diversify livelihoods. The significance of such a contribution is founded on the fact that the case under investigation is rural and in South Africa where women were made to strongly correlate with rurality through apartheid policy. Although there are many studies that attempt to theorise the relationship between gender inequality and household livelihoods diversification, the study would add a South African perspective to the process of theorisation.
Secondly, the study could help alert the ordinary members of the households in the villages about gender equality as a resourceful asset. That is, households would understand that the gender equality that is rife is actually destroying their capacity to mobilise adequate resources for livelihoods diversification. In short, once ordinary villagers and members of households accept that gender inequality is disempowering for them, they could exploit gender equality to amplify the existing livelihoods or to establish a variety of new ones. The study should help members of the households to recognise that glorification of cultural and traditional customs could as well be at the expense of the households.
Ethical issues are the concerns , dilemmas, and conflicts that arise over the proper way to conduct a research, ethics defines what is or what is not legitimate to do, or what moral research procedure involves (Neuman, 2003). Therefore, the study will be conducted based on the following ethics which need to be taken in to consideration when conducting a research because they will serve as standards which the researcher ought to evaluate his/her research.
In this study there will not be any form of harm whether physical or psychological, the researcher/enumerator will make the participants aware of any necessary briefings involving their participation in the research. It will be the duty of the researcher/enumerator to tell the participants what the study entails and that they should not be forced to participate. Description of the nature of the research will be done before the commencement of the participation in the study and it should be clear to all the participants. Every participant’s privacy will be guaranteed. For example, the researcher might give each participant a code number and then label any written document with that number rather than with the person’s name.
The study is founded on the general assumption that livelihoods diversification is a phenomenon that characterizes the survival and income strategies of individuals and household in rural areas of the developing countries. Additionally, the diversity of livelihoods is an important feature of rural survival but often overlooked by the architects of policies (Ellis, 1999, 2000). While the argument of this study suggests that gender inequality is traditionally, culturally and socially motivated and constructed, therefore those particular constructions may limit women’s active participation in livelihoods diversification at a community and household level. Hence, the study seeks to investigate the effects of gender inequality on rural household livelihoods diversification.
In the next chapter, both the theoretical and conceptual frameworks are discussed as part of the literature review. The general overview of gender inequality and its effects on rural livelihoods diversification in developing countries are discussed. Various aspects that are discussed in the next chapter includes: gender inequality and rural household livelihoods diversification, gender inequality and household resources management, gender inequality and allocation of resources in the households, triple role of women, the nature and level of gender inequality, cultural stereotypes and gender inequality, and, gender inequality and apartheid..