Trade Hub Gender Advisor Magdeline Madibela (far left) with the Mpenzeni focus groupUSAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub is conducting gender training for Ammtech/COMACO, a strategic partnership grantee based in Chipata, Zambia to identify gender patterns, power dynamics, gender roles, rights, and opportunities related to COMACO beneficiaries (farmers) in the Nzamane, Mpenzeni, and Mbangombe cooperatives.

The research has demonstrated that gender relations in Zambia are strongly influenced by culture and that gender roles and responsibilities are determined by societal expectations. Women are burdened with multiple roles including preparation of food, collection of water and firewood, caring for family members, child-bearing and child-minding as well as farm work, and as a result suffer from time poverty. To ease the burden of multiple roles on women, COMACO has supplied households with fuel-efficient stoves and has planted energy-efficient Glicidia Sepium trees for use as firewood and fertilizer.

Productive resources such as land, property, and equipment are primarily controlled by men. COMACO, however, provides equal opportunities and benefit for men and women to access equipment, inputs, and training.

The research also reveals that cultural constraints and stereotypes continue to limit women’s participation in decision-making. One of the interviewees quoted the saying “a kaume takachepa,” meaning “a man can never be too young or small.” The saying is often used to portray men as better decision-makers than women. Although there is a general understanding of the importance of equal distribution of power in decision making structures of the cooperatives, men are still the majority of leaders in the Executive Committee.

Gender training and sensitization to address the key gender issues identified by the research will be provided to lead farmers and farmers who work with COMACO.

Photo: Trade Hub Gender Advisor Magdeline Madibela (far left) with the Mpenzeni focus group


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