and Intrahousehold Bargaining:
Gender in Sudan and
In the absence of large-scale representative samples of households and individuals across the African continent, the hypothesis that ongoing commercialization of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa may lead to a relative impoverishment of women remains unverifiable. It is important enough to merit theorizing whether or not it is so, both to guide policy and influence the design of further data collection efforts. Future empirical strategies for approaching the problem might productively focus on distinguishing and weighing two complementary determinants of the changing fortunes of women. 1 One determinant is the changing distribution of intrahousehold bargaining power. The other determinant is the changing constellation of social norms that constrain and regulate the economic activities of women. In this chapter, I concentrate on the second, showing how important social norms and gender ideologies may be in understanding women's economic activities in western Sudan and southwestern Burkina Faso.
Judith Carney and Michael Watts' (1990) discussion of an irrigation project in the Gambia illustrates the differences between the two processes that determine change. The authors suggest that the net effect of the project was a worsening of the position of women. Men expropriated land previously controlled by women and extracted more labor surplus. Did this negative effect happen because husbands, now granted title to more valuable land, were able to strengthen their bargaining positions against their wives? Or did it happen because men, now granted title to more valuable land, were able to strengthen their bargaining positions against women? The difference-whether the change is within the household or without the household—is fundamental. The literature sometimes labels these two approaches the “intrahousehold” and “extrahousehold” approaches. 2