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Tropentag, October 5 - 7, 2004 in Berlin

"Rural Poverty Reduction
through Research for Development and Transformation"

Gender Discrimination and its Impact on Food and Nutrition Security in Kenya: A Case of West Pokot District

Pamela Ayiera Marinda, Franz Heidhues

University of Hohenheim, Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the Tropics and Sub-tropics, Germany


Gender equality and empowerment of women is one of the effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease, and to stimulate development that is sustainable. The government of Kenya has made efforts to promote women's active involvement in all areas of societal development, in addition to ensuring that development is based on the contributions and concerns of both men and women. Despite these efforts, there are still clear gender inequalities in areas where both men and women's roles are visible, for example in health, education, agriculture and in some remunerated work.

The aim of this paper is to assess the social and economic costs of gender discrimination; these costs are incurred in suboptimal resource allocation, in lost agricultural productivity and in deficient nutrition of household members. The study is motivated by the fact that despite women playing an important role in agricultural production and in ensuring good nutrition for household members, many women in Kenya do not have the same access to resources like men do. This study argues that: with the same access and control of productive resources by both male and female headed households in a given geographical area, the levels of agricultural productivity and nutrition outcomes in male headed households should not be significantly different from those of female headed households. Any difference would be attributed to differences in access to resource caused by gender discrimination.

The study analyses the food and nutrition situation in female and male headed households in relation to access to human capital, financial capital and land. The results show that human and financial capitals are the main resources that caused variations in both agricultural productivity and nutritional status in the two categories of households. Despite male headed households having access to more land than the female headed households, there was no significant difference in average area of land cultivated in the two categories of households. Economic cost analysis of unequal access to resources by gender is done using an econometric model.

Keywords: Access to resources, food and nutrition security, gender discrimination, Kenya

Contact Address: Pamela Ayiera Marinda, University of Hohenheim, Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the Tropics and Sub-tropics, Institute 490 a, 70599, Stuttgart, Germany, e-mail: payiera@uni-hohenheim.de

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