Gender relations and food crop production: a case of Kiambu district Kenya, 1920-1985
Musalia, Wangari Martha
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The study examined gender relations and on food crop production in Kiambu district between 1920 and 1985. The socialeconomic relations between females and males are characterised often by different assignments to labour tasks, control over decision-making and differential access to and control over resourses has changed over time. These relations of production has been influenced by the social-political and economic transformation that has taken place over the period of the study. The study employed gender analysis to analyse the alterations of gender relations and food crop production since if focuses on the systems which determines gender roles/ responsibilities, access to and control over resourses and decision-making and not on the individuals women and men. Gender analysis was significant in the identification and understanding of the inequalities, challenges and responses of Kiambu women and men in their endeavour to produce food during the period of study. The study was done in three locations, namely, Limuru, Kiganjo, and Komathai of Kiambu District, using both primary and secondary data. A total of 56 informants both men and women of varying ages were interviewed. The study established that changes in land tenure, labour provision as well as promotion of cash crops had affected production of food crops. The alienation of kikuyu land and later consolidation and registration on an individual basis were major in affecting people's access to productive land. This was, however, gendered with women being the most affeted because of the existence partriarchal system which undermined women's ownership rights. Gender division labour had also changed over the years and was particularly enhanced by migrant labour system. Change in both land and labour organisation affected the decision-making on the type of food crops that were grown in the district. There was shift from the dependence on indigenous crops like millet, sorgum cassava yams, and traditional maize to more market-oriented horticultural crops like irish potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach and cauliflower, and cabbage among others. In effect, the district was producing less staple food crops by mid-1980s than it did by the beginning of the 20th century. But women continued to dominate in food crop production. Nevertheless, the study noted that though women continued to provide most labour, they did not remain passive victims of patriarchial control but they engage productive activities for instance, food - related trades to make of their own money.