Constraints and opportunities in gender relations: Sugarcane outgrower schemes in Malawi

Adams, Timothy; Gerber, Jean-David; Amacker, Michèle (2019). Constraints and opportunities in gender relations: Sugarcane outgrower schemes in Malawi. World development, 122, pp. 282-294. Elsevier 10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.05.029

[img] Text
Contraints and Opportunities in Gender relations.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (1MB) | Request a copy

Contract farming (CF) is always and inherently a gendered process. This paper unveils the gender dynamics in resource access, use and labour control to show how outgrower CF induces changes, often contradictory engendering processes of production relations. It asks: How does CF influence gender relations in access to land, household labour relations and employment conditions (participation)? Relying on a detailed case study research of a sugarcane CF scheme in Malawi, we show that CF has a complex gendered impact on household’s production relations. CF leads to a masculinization of farm management and ownership together with a feminization of labour. Nevertheless, women translate such labour provision into active participation in decision-making over the use of the cash returns from the CF for better outcome in the household. At the individual level, some can benefit from it; especially women who manage to engage in cane farming are able to attain financial independence and increase their bargaining power within their households. However, such benefits are reserved for households with access to land. Nevertheless, women engagement in cane farming coupled with increased gender awareness through NGOs sensitization is contributing to a change in gendered social perceptions and increased valuation of women abilities in commercial farming, their needs and contributions and may be modifying the gender balance at the community level. We demonstrate that empowering women by making them cane farmers alone is not enough to change women position within their communities, unless community members accompany such empowerment with the recognition and acknowledgement of the women’s contribution. The finding suggests that combining active women participation in outgrower CF with authority enhancing programs through community education whilst creating the possibilities for women to take independent action may be a good way to improve the gender relations between men and women.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Human Geography > Unit Political urbanism and sutainable spatial development
09 Interdisciplinary Units > Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies (ICFG)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Human Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
11 Centers of Competence > Center for Regional Economic Development (CRED)

UniBE Contributor:

Adams, Timothy, Gerber, Jean-David, Amacker, Michèle


900 History > 910 Geography & travel






[312] Feminisation, agricultural transition and rural employment (FATE) Official URL




Nora Trenkel

Date Deposited:

24 Jul 2019 09:11

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:29

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Contract farming Gender relations Women’s empowerment Bargaining power Household labour Sugarcane




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback