Understanding the Gendered Fields of the Gambia for Food Security Programming

By Kushnir, Meredith | Women & Environments International Magazine, Fall/Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

Understanding the Gendered Fields of the Gambia for Food Security Programming


Kushnir, Meredith, Women & Environments International Magazine


"You, Mother Cassava,

You deserve recognition.

You are no cash crop,

But you deserve recognition.

You don't fetch;

the All Mighty foreign exchange.

But you feed

All your children"

- Nigerian poet Flora Nwapa. 1986

This poem by Flora Nwapa sets the tone for exploring the intersections between gender, sustainable agriculture and food security in The Gambia, West Africa. Since 2008, Resource Efficient Agricultural Production, (REAPCanada) and its local partners have been implementing an Agroecological Village (AEV) approach to sustainable rural agricultural development in The Gambia.

The AEV is a participatory approach that addresses social development, gender inequality, poverty, food insecurity, and the environment in West African communities. Throughout the time that REAPCanada and its partners have been working in rural Gambia, they have learned that understanding local gender relations is a prerequisite for improving food security, and that food security and gender equality are intimately linked.

In most rural communities in The Gambia, a highly polarized division of labour exists, although the extent and characteristics of the division differ by ethnicity. This division is visible in many activities, including agriculture and the associated cultural and social affairs. It is common, though not universal, for men to be responsible for growing groundnut and grain crops, such as millet and maize, for income. In contrast, women's main role is to grow millet, rice and other foods for family consumption as well as for the related activities of food processing and preparation (Carney and Watts, 1990).

In addition to farming and gardening, many women spend a significant amount of their time in providing food - cooking, processing foods, fetching water in buckets, gathering fuel wood for fuel and stoking fires. Their role in providing food works in conjunction with men's 'bread-winning' role to maintain household food security. As many African feminists remind us, it is important to understand African gender relations between men and women both in terms of cooperation and complementarity as well as through the lens of struggle and oppression.

Women's struggles take place not only at the national and international level where processes like racism and economic exploitation that disadvantage women also disadvantage men (Johnson-Odim, 1991; Oyewumi, 2002; Arndt, 2002), but also within the family structure at the 'household level'. While both women and men play important roles in Gambian households, there are fundamental differences in the nature of their work, the way it is valued, the allocation of financial and social power, and the access to, and control over, resources. AU of these tend to disadvantage women.

Access to resources is strongly gendered in rural Gambia. Men tend to have precedence over available household inputs while women tend to have little access to, or control over, money or agricultural inputs. Women, then, tend to engage more with sustainable, low-impact 'hoe' agriculture not because, as some ecofeminists suggest, there is a natural connection between women and their environments, but rather, because they face structural barriers in accessing 'modern inputs' and practicing 'modern' agriculture (Schroeder, 2011;Bryceson, 1995).

In the Mandinka language, industrial and monocrop agriculture is referred to as toubab jamando, or white man's 'modern' agriculture, whereas the indigenous form of low-input agriculture is called moofing jamando, or black man's 'organic' agriculture. This binary language, although historically illustrating a racial division in agriculture, also exposes a gender division since men predominantly practice toubab agriculture while women practice moofing.

Importantly, while women may be better versed in sustainable agriculture, a project such as the AEV, which is geared towards sustainable 'organic' agriculture, does not necessarily translate into benefits for women since power dynamics and local practices influence their distribution. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Understanding the Gendered Fields of the Gambia for Food Security Programming
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.