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Gendered Agency and Body Politics - Trajectories of urban women’s livelihoods in Northern Mozambique

Författare och institution:
Margareta Espling (Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi)
Publicerad i:
Paper presented at Gender Justice and Body Politics Research Conference, Environmental and Geographical Science Dept. & African Gender Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa, 4-6 February, 2009,
Konferensbidrag, övrigt
Sammanfattning (abstract):
ABSTRACT Gendered Agency and Body Politics Trajectories of urban women’s livelihoods in Northern Mozambique This paper takes its point of departure in fieldwork made in the mid-1990s on how women with limited access to resources in some urban communities in Mozambique had transformed their livelihood strategies in order to cope with dramatically changing circumstances in their society, mainly the war of destabilisation as well as the economic liberalisation and structural adjustment policies. With the previous study as a background, this paper aims at illustrating how the trajectories of individual women’s livelihoods have evolved over the years, as processes of change are continuously ongoing. In focus for this paper are the women living in one neighbourhood in the town of Montepuez in the peripheral Northern Mozambique. My theoretical standpoint is that everyday activities and livelihood strategies of women (and men) in particular places must be related to wider contexts of social and economic changes. For this study a livelihoods framework is used within a theoretical perspective of critical political geography combined with an actor-oriented gender approach: gendered agency informs and shapes the individual strategies of everyday politics in particular places. The empirical material is based in one urban neighbourhood in the town of Montepuez. Initial tracking of the 21 women was carried out in early 2007, when 16 women were found and interviewed. Additional and more elaborated fieldwork was carried out in October 2008, when 15 women were interviewed. Main tools were semi-structured interviews, key informant interviews, informal conversations, complemented by observations in homesteads and the neighbourhood. Preliminary findings suggest that there are two major aspects influencing how the different women act in order to cope with ongoing social and economic transformations; changes in household composition and the lack of financial resources within the households. The general trend in these households is that there are fewer adult men, at the same time as the children gradually have left to marry and build their own households. This leads to a diminishing labour supply within the households, both in numbers as well as in body strength due to old age and sickness, which is vital in a livelihood situation still depending on an agriculturally based economy. There seem to be a decrease in the number of activities carried out as well as in the production output, leading to a weakening household economy in terms of access to various kinds of resources. One response to this trend, as well as to the lack of access to financial resources, seems to be an increase in organisation among women in order to act collectively to mobilise various kinds of resources. Particularly there is a strong increase in locally constructed savings systems and reciprocity networks. Thus, what strategies the different women apply for their livelihoods depend on their gendered agency, their level of access to various kinds of resources, as well as the composition of their households at different times.
Ämne (baseras på Högskoleverkets indelning av forskningsämnen):
Social och ekonomisk geografi ->
Annan samhällsvetenskap ->
Postens nummer:
Posten skapad:
2009-02-28 11:47
Posten ändrad:
2009-09-03 14:52

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