Editorial Chief: Jemimah M. Njuki, Africa Centre for Gender, Social Research and Impact Assessment

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Vol. 1, Issue 1, pp 54-76, 2015

The Role of Gender and Kinship Structure in Household Decision-Making for Agriculture and Tree Planting in Malawi

Author: Seline S. Meijera,c,*, Gudeta W. Sileshib, Godfrey Kundhlandec, Delia Catacutana, and Maarten Nieuwenhuisa
a UCD Forestry, Agriculture and Food Science Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland; b5600 Lukanga Road, Lusaka, Zambia; c World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Programme, Chitedze Agricultural Research Station, Lilongwe, Malawi; d World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnam


This study examines household decision-making on various agricultural activities-including tree planting and management-among farming families in Malawi. A mixed-method approach consisting of a household survey (containing 135 married respondents and 16 focus group discussions) was used to analyze the gender dimensions of decision-making and the role of kinship structure. The study found that most decisions in relation to agricultural activities are made either by the husband or by the husband and wife together. However, decisions regarding tree planting and tree management are more often made by the household head alone, and are considered mainly the domain of men. These results were reinforced by the focus group discussions, which also revealed that women do play a role in the implementation of these activities. In patrilineal households decisions were made more often by the husband alone compared to matrilineal families where there was more joint decision-making by husbands and wives together. Decision-making on tree planting by the wife and joint decision-making on tree management resulted in higher densities of trees planted on farms compared to situations where decisions were made by the husband alone.

Keywords: Agroforestry; Gender; Headship; Household Decision-making; Malawi; Matrilineal Kinship.

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DOI : 10.19268/JGAFS.112015.4
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