Landing a Better Dead? Exploring Land Access and Use for Female Farmers in Central Mozambique
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In an area where majority of the population rely on small scale agricultural production as a source of livelihood, Sub-Saharan African (SSA) small scale farmers (SSFs) play a pivotal role in ensuring sustainable agricultural development. These regions are increasingly facing concerns of population growth, food insecurity and prevailing poverty, and thus targeted SSF development approaches are becoming widespread throughout the region. This new development approach is raising questions about how SSFs access and use land, with particular attention being paid to marginalised groups. Thus, this thesis will narrow its scope onto female SSFs, making the central research question how do female small scale farmers access and use land in Central Mozambique, and how do development projects reflect this reality in their work? Since the dominant literature has often categorized agricultural women as a unified marginalised group, this thesis uses three inclusive theoretical lenses to ensure an accurate portrayal of female SSFs, and their ability to access and use land. These lenses are intra-household perspectives, social-embeddedness and differentiation between women. By integrating these perspectives, and situating the findings within current development initiatives, this thesis has both practical and theoretical implications. Theoretically, this thesis investigates the legitimacy of the dominant narrative surrounding agricultural women and land, by providing empirical evidence that supports the accurate portrayal of women. In terms of practical contributions, by contextualising these findings amongst current SSF development initiatives, this thesis investigates to what extent these projects understand and incorporate the reality of women within their projects, whilst making recommendations to ensure their projects align with reality. The dual interest of this thesis, in female SSFs and development approaches, means that both emic and etic perspectives were gained in the data collection process. The emic SSF perspective gave two primary findings. First, that female farmers’ ability to access to and use land is far more dynamic than often assumed. Second, due to their heterogenous nature, women’s experiences with land are highly diverse, as different intersections create both oppression and opportunity for the individuals. With regards to the etic investigation, the international development perspective is aligned with the dominant, marginalised view of women. Thus, their misalignment with reality has limited their ability to positively impact female SSFs.