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Annex 2: The interface between time allocation and agricultural production in Zambia: a case study 1.

I. Introduction and Context

1. Both men and women play multiple (e.g., productive, reproductive, and community management) roles in society (Moser 1989). While men are able to focus principally on their productive role, and play their multiple roles sequentially, women, in contrast to men, play these roles simultaneously and balance simultaneous competing claims on limited time for each of them. Analysis of time allocation is a means of capturing multiple tasks and the interdependence between the "market" and the "household" economies. In Zambia, there are significant time allocation differentials between men and women. As a result, women work longer hours than men, and "time poverty" is a major issue for women.

2. Though agriculture accounts for only about 15 percent of GDP, it is by far the most important source of employment in Zambia. Growth in agriculture is critical both for the country's economic prospects in general, and for poverty alleviation in particular. As a result of migration patterns over many years, women have been estimated to comprise about 65 percent of the rural population in Zambia (Chenoweth 1987). The predominance of female labor is thus a key characteristic of rural Zambia in general, and of Zambian agriculture in particular.

II. Key Findings of Time Allocation Studies

3. Time allocation studies present a strikingly consistent picture of the gender division of labor in Zambia and the different work burdens of men and women, notwithstanding variations in their findings and conclusions which reflect regional, farming system, and socio-economic differences. A study in Luapula Province defines productive work as comprising all work on agriculture, food and household activities, building, foraging, business, and working for others (Allen 1988). It finds that an average woman spends 43 percent of available time engaged in productive work, compared with 12-13 percent for the average man. This equates to a working day for a female adult of 6 hours, compared to less than two hours for a male adult. Comparison of the time spent on productive activities between men and women at different levels of production is particularly instructive (Figure I). In any category, women spend a much greater proportion of their lives on productive activities than men, but the discrepancy between them is much greater in the lower production categories. In the subsistence category, the amount of leisure taken by women is very small (less than one hour per week) while the amount taken by men is very large (nineteen hours per week), 40 percent more than men in any other category.

4. There are very significant gender-differentiated time use patterns among children. Children are inextricably integrated into the production systems of the household, and the unequal distribution of work starts very early. Girls spend four times more time than boys on directly productive work. The average girl child spends more time on productive work than any group of adult men, except the very small number in the commercial households. More than half of this time is spent on household activities, especially food preparation and cooking. The time girls spend on this activity boys spend at school. Boys and girls do substantial amounts of farm work: boys about 15 minutes each day, girls approximately 40 minutes each day. More than any other cluster of responsibilities, food preparation dominates the lives of village women (Box 1).


5. Time allocation studies are virtually silent on the subject of child care. One reason for this is that child care illustrates the simultaneity with which women play their multiple roles, since the task of looking after children under five is essentially carried out alongside other activities. Where child care is identified as a separate activity, there is often very little actual time recorded against it. In the Kefa study, women apparently spend 7 percent of their time on child care (Skjonsberg 1989).
Box 1: Time for Food Preparation

A villager has few and simple tools to prepare and
preserve food. To compensate for the lack of
equipment, there is little a woman can do but work
hard. And she does. A woman spends on average
between four and five hours every day to prepare the
food her family eats. This is about twice the time it
takes the villagers to grow and gather food- and cash-crops.
There is no chain of activities that is more
time-consuming than to convert the golden maize
grain into the daily nsima.

Source: Skjonsberg 1989.

6. Time use data confirm the minimal time spent by women (compared with men) at "meetings," thus limiting their capacity for effective participation in decisions that affect their lives. In the Kefa study, both men and women spend relatively little time in "meetings and discussions," though men devote almost three times as much time as women do to this activity (1.7 hours compared with 0.6 hours). The picture is somewhat more balanced in the Mabumba study. These findings have wider implications for development of gender-inclusive agricultural institutions and services.

III. The Interface between Time Allocation and Agricultural Development

7. The preponderance of women's labor in agriculture is illuminated by the time allocation studies. Detailed farm system surveys reveal women's greater labor contribution to crop production (Box 2). A critical dimension is the seasonality of time use (Figure 2).

Box 2: Women's Agricultural Production

In Zambia, women are responsible for 49 percent of
family labor allocated to crop production, while, men
supply 39 percent and children supply 12 percent. The
traditional view that women specialize in food crop
production and men in cash crop production is not
necessarily true. Women's commitment of labor to cash
crops--hybrid maize, sunflowers, and cotton--is not
insignificant. Women contribute 44 percent of total
family labor to hybrid maize and 38 percent to cotton
and sunflowers.


Source: Kumar 1994, in Quisumbing et al. 1995a

8. Labor constraints leave women with the harsh choices. Expansion of maize production compromised the time available for other crops, while they frequently had to neglect some aspect of their farming activities because labor time was short (Box 3). The kind of seasonal labor stress women complained about was not the labor demands of a particular activity or crop, but the pressure of having to balance a range of different demands on their time within very short periods of time. These competing time uses, in a framework of almost total inelasticity of time allocation, have serious implications for agricultural output and productivity, and, in consequence, for household income, welfare, nutrition, and health.

9. Technological change in agriculture has been detrimental to women. The focus of labor-saving technological innovation has been on tasks performed by men. When this leads to greater land areas being cleared, (at less time input for the men), the result is increased labor burden for women. Adoption of technological innovation without attention to its impact on the gender division of labor and the time burdens of men and women can, and does, lead to substantially raising the time pressure on already overburdened women. Agricultural technologies must recognize, and be compatible with, household relationships. The lack of access by the majority of farmers to even the most basic technology, inputs, and finance severely limits the country's agricultural growth and output potential. One recent estimate concludes that if women enjoyed the same overall degree of capital investment in agricultural inputs, including land, as their male counterparts, output in Zambia could increase by up to 15 percent (Saito 1992).

IV. Conclusions and Recommendations

10. Understanding the time constraint, and its attendant implications, is fundamental if Zambia's agricultural development policies, strategies, and projects are to be successful. Time constraints must be addressed directly. Proactive measures to reduce the time burden for women farmers are both urgent and feasible. Women need access to labor-saving technology, across their full range of tasks. This requires shifts in priorities and orientation of key institutions, and measures to ensure that technologies that are available are not simply appropriated by men.
Box 3: Groundnuts vs. Maize

An Adaptive Research Planning Team (ARPT)
study in a community in Luapula Province
observed how the production goals of the
husband may conflict with those of the wife. In
this system, "pops" (empty pods) on groundnuts
are experienced as a major problem. Farmers
associate this problem more with late planted
groundnuts than with early planted groundnuts.
A married woman in this system tends to plant
her groundnuts late because she is preoccupied
with her husband's hybrid maize. Since the
husband decides how family labor must be
utilized, his hybrid maize is given priority over
the wife's groundnuts. ARPT has concluded that
the evidence of the labor conflict between
groundnuts and maize justifies further research
on the maize-groundnut intercrop.

Source: Sikana and Siame 1987.

11. It is urgent to design agricultural systems around the needs of women farmers. Agricultural institutions need assistance in recognizing (and acting on) the centrality of women's roles in agriculture. There is a clear need to redirect agricultural training, research, and extension to meet the specific and different needs of women farmers. Much more research is needed on fanning system-specific time use constraints, conflicts, and trade-offs, and on how to foster changes in the in the gender division of labor to reduce male-female imbalances; the interaction of these factors with crop mix, production strategies, technological packages, "husbandry" practices etc. requires urgent attention. A critical task is to determine how to mobilize surplus male labor in agriculture (the scope for which is evident in the time data), as well as in promoting greater burden-sharing in carrying out domestic tasks. It is essential to develop and adopt labor-saving technology explicitly accessible to women, covering the full range of their domestic and economic tasks: this requires clear focus on transport technology (IMT), and affirmative steps to overcome male bias (control) in technology development and adoption. Finally, it is important to take affirmative action to place women in decision-making positions in training and extension, marketing and financial institutions, and in sectoral policy, planning, and management, in ways that reflect the predominance of women in rural areas and in Zambian farming.

C. Mark Blackden

Chitra Bhanu

in collaboration with the Poverty and Social Policy Working Group of the Special Program of Assistance for Africa

(1) This case study is drawn from C. Mark Blackden, All Work and No Time: The Relevance of Gender Differences in Time Allocation for Agricultural Development in Zambia, Working Draft, Poverty Reduction and Social Development Group, Africa Region, World Bank, March 1998.
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Title Annotation:Gender Growth and Poverty Reduction: Special Program of Assistance for Africa, 1998 Status Report on Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa
Publication:Gender, Growth and Poverty Reduction
Article Type:Case study
Date:Mar 1, 1999
Previous Article:Annex 1: engendering macroeconomic policy in budgets, unpaid, and informal work.
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