|Title:||Gender, Household Food Security and|
|Abstract:||Despite the considerable number of rural women in Ethiopia and their contribution in food production, processing , preparation and provision, they are often neglected and deprived of services and amenities which leads to their vulnerability to poverty, food insecurity, gender bias and effects of environmental change. Accordingly, the principal objective of this study is to assess the food security situation and the type of coping strategies pursued by female and male- headed households in two kebeles of Meskan Woreda of the Gurage Zone, Ethiopia. The study has employed both qualitative and quantitative data which is gathered through household survey, FGDs, key informant interviews and household case stories. Qualitative data is analyzed through description using words whereas quantitative data is analyzed using descriptive statistics such as percentages, cross tabs and frequencies. The findings of the research indicated that female-headed households compared to male-headed households are found at a low level of food security and are non- self sufficient in terms of the food requirement of their households and the amount they produce within a year. A number of factors cause the difference in food security status between female and male-headed households as discussed in detail in this paper. First, despite the fact that female-headed households are equally granted land as male –headed households in the study area, they are unable to benefit much from their plots of land as maleheaded households do for various reasons. For example 96 percent of female-headed households in the survey could not cultivate their plots and had to sharecrop them out while only 6 percent of male-headed households had to sharecrop their land. It was also found out that among the various problems they encounter, female-headed households who sharecrop their land were unable to maximize their production as their land is mismanaged by the sharecroppers (people ploughing their land) in many cases. Second, lack of other crucial factors of production such as, labor, plough oxen, credit and agricultural inputs among female-headed households has rendered a tremendous impact on their potential to produce enough food to feed their family throughout the year. The findings of the study on the types of coping strategies used by households in the study area has shown that households implement various coping strategies at the early and later stages of food shortages. Female-headed households that account for 66 percent as compared to 55 percent of male-headed households use mutual support mechanisms such as asking for gifts and borrowing from friends and/or relatives at the early and latter stages of food shortage. The study also revealed that poorer households including many of female-headed households are unable to use risk minimizing activities such as asset creation to cope with seasonal food shortages, as their asset base has been continuously being deteriorated due to the recurrent droughts that hit the area at different times in the past few years. Thus, such households rely on external support through direct food aid or other forms of assistance such as the Government Productive Safety Net Program which was recently launched in the area. The paper winds up by concluding that granting a piece of land by itself could not end the food insecurity problem of female-headed households as these households are constrained by lack of access to important factors of production such as labor, plough oxen and credit and other agricultural inputs. Moreover, cultural and social constraints in a form of gender biased customs, stereotypes and misconceptions about women are the major challenges for femaleheaded households in the study area.|
|Appears in Collections:||Center for Rural Development Studies|
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