Gender Gaps in Transfer of Improved Bee Keeping: A Case of the Maasai Community in Trans Mara, Narok County, Kenya
Miriti, Lydiah C.
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In Kenya, beekeeping is well established and can be successfully carried out in about 80% of the country. The improved enterprise has many advantages and can be practiced favourably by resource poor men, women, and youth. However, the bee sector remains largely underdeveloped due to the fact that in many parts of the country, it is still carried out traditionally and passed through inheritance. Consequently, since it is a male domain, men mostly inherit it leaving women and youth who are new in the enterprise vulnerable. This study sought to explore gender gaps in the transfer of improved bee keeping among the Maasai community in Trans Mara, Narok County. This was achieved through identifying the levels of participation of men and women in Improved Bee Keeping, decision making power among bee keeping households (HHs), and the challenges they face. Investigative survey design was used with both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The target population included men and women in improved bee keeping groups. The study used Blumberg (1984) gender stratification theory which argues that gender inequalities are intertwined at various levels from households to local communities. Stratified random sampling was used for HH surveys. A total of 372 respondents were interviewed. Structured and semi-structured questionnaires were used for Household (HH) surveys. Data collected was analysed using SPSS and Stata computer software. The study found that while women are actively involved in bee keeping, their participation in accessing improved equipment, trainings and better marketing channels is low in comparison to men’s. This is due to capital constraint, gender related factors such as mobility and time, and cultural perceptions, factors that challenge them more than men. Consequently, their level of participation remains low in parts of the chain where value is high. In male headed households (MHHs), men make most or all decisions concerning purchase and sale of productive assets including land and cattle. They also control most productive resources including income from bee products. Most women make decisions concerning purchase and sale of chicken while none own land or cattle. The major challenges in improved bee keeping are lack of access to; capital, trainings, ready markets, and domination by middlemen (brokers). Consequently, women are more vulnerable which continues to widen the gender gap in the bee keeping value chain. The study recommends that improved bee keeping projects should collaborate with other stakeholders such as extension officers, research institutions and county governments in order to adopt gender responsive strategies that can enhance participation, equity in access to trainings and benefits accrued from bee products and access to ready and better markets. Household and neighbourhood empowerment, for instance, sharing improved equipment, construction of training cum collection centres within localities, formation of marketing associations to minimize middlemen, are some of the strategies suggested.