Gendered livelihood impacts and responses to an invasive, transboundary weed in a rural Ethiopian community

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Taylor & Francis


Gender as unequal power relations intersects with global environmental change threatening agriculture-based livelihoods, including land degradation, increasing climate variability, and invasive alien plants. Commonly overlooked, invasive alien plants may have gendered impacts on everyday life that disproportionately affect the less powerful. Drawing on experiences of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia’s Oromia region with an invasive, transboundary weed, Parthenium hysterophorus L., this paper illustrates how environmental change interacts with pre-existing vulnerabilities to shape individual and household-level impacts and responses. We applied a feminist perspective in livelihoods and environmental change research and praxis to explore the intersection of gendered livelihoods and parthenium management in spaces of everyday life. While invasive plants, including parthenium, may be easily perceptible in the field, understanding impacts on livelihoods requires consideration of women’s and men’s roles and responsibilities within the broader household compound as well as intra-household decision-making. Parthenium can be harmful to environmental, animal, and human health, but unduly impacts women’s labor, spaces, and assets, including cows whose milk may be tainted by grazing in parthenium-infested fields. We demonstrate the importance of considering women’s social networks and so-called reproductive space and labor to understand gendered and place-based inequities of climate change. This study reveals intimate connections between environmental stressors and gendered livelihoods. Our findings demonstrate how inequalities can be reinforced by new forms of vulnerability, with response options socially differentiated. We argue that a feminist livelihood lens helps bridge the global scale of environmental change with local scales of gendered livelihood adaptation embedded within broader socio-environmental change.



Adaptation, Everyday life, Gendered space, House-lot garden, Livelihoods, Parthenium hysterophorus L., Ethiopia


Maria Elisa Christie, Daniel Sumner, Lidya A. Chala & Wondi Mersie (2023) Gendered livelihood impacts and responses to an invasive, transboundary weed in a rural Ethiopian community, Gender, Place & Culture, DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2023.2294257