Gender, Labor, and Livelihood: Invasive Pest Management in a Rural Ethiopian Community
Sumner, Daniel A.
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This presentation discusses recent research exploring the intersection between labor, gender, livelihoods, and pest management. We document how gender relations, norms, and attitudes determine how women and men are involved in managing invasive agricultural weeds as well as potential gender differentiated impacts. In Boset district (woreda), Ethiopia the invasive plant Parthenium hysterophorus L., is adversely affecting rural livelihoods, reducing agricultural productivity; biodiversity; livestock health and income generation. In response to these growing challenges, a research for development program has been developing biological control methods using natural insect enemies as an ecologically viable, cost-effective, and environmentally safe approach to manage Parthenium. Drawing upon individual interviews, our preliminary findings suggest that while managing Parthenium is a “family affair”, with all household members mobilized to control the weed, the additional time required to manage Parthenium disproportionately impacts women, whose overall labor burden is substantially increased. This presentation will conclude with recommendations for developing a gender-responsive outreach strategy for communicating information about new pest management options.