"Die man is die hoof en vat voor": Women's attitudes to land and farming in the communal areas of Namaqualand
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This article examines female attitudes towards and experiences with agricultural production and land rights in Namaqualand, South Africa. Namaqualand was chosen as the study site because it is home to six different "coloured" reserves or rural areas reserved exclusively for peoples racially defined as "coloured," which have traditionally been held under communal management. Today, a large part of the land is still organized and managed by local officials. Another reason Namaqualand was selected for this research is due to the discrepancy between the lack of independent land rights for women and their important economic contributions. The empirical work in this article was based on 45 in-depth interviews given to women from the reserves and fieldwork conducted in Namaqualand common areas. The participants were recruited using an informal, word-of-mouth technique which lessens the statistical representation of the study group. However, strong efforts were made by the authors to include a diverse group of women taking into account many different characteristics like age and marital status. The research suggests that Namaqualand women typically access land through relationships with male relatives and because of this fact single women find it almost impossible to gain access to land and widowed or divorced women are susceptible to the loss of their land rights. The study shows Namaqualand women are involved in a wide range of agricultural production activities. Most women carry out those activities on land controlled by male relatives; however, a small proportion of women independently administer land. In this study women displayed conservative views on the patriarchal land use system and were unwilling to challenge traditionally gendered land rights. Even so, Namaqualand women expressed a strong desire for secure access to land.