The Gendered and Economic Impacts of Land Reform in Zimbabwe

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Lincoln ADDISON, Memorial University, Canada
What are the economic and gendered consequences of land reform in Zimbabwe? Zimbabwe’s land reform represents the most extensive redistribution of land to smallholders in the 21st century. Initiated in 2000 when the state decided to support black occupiers on white-owned commercial estates, this land reform program has transferred 4,500 formerly white owned estates – representing 20 percent of the total land area in Zimbabwe – to around 170,000 black smallholder households. Despite the fact that women are crucial stakeholders in rural development processes, and are central to food production, the impact of land reform on women has been overlooked in favour of political-economic outcomes. Based on ethnographic research with twenty households in Sovelele – a post land reform settlement located in southeastern Zimbabwe – my paper focuses on how the roles and responsibilities of women may be shifting among land recipients. My research suggests that land reform in Sovelele has given rise to a new group of medium-scale farmers able to produce significant surpluses of maize, small grains and groundnuts. Yet, this expansion of agricultural production has also entailed an intensification of unpaid female and child labour. For some women – namely married women – the demand for their labour translates into increased control over land and household income, while for others (such as unmarried daughters), the increased work load expected of young women and men encourages them to seek opportunities outside of the resettlement area.