This paper seeks to contribute a gender perspective to the analysis of rural livelihoods in three Uganda districts, focusing specifically on how gender-related constraints influence the livelihood options of male- and female-headed households variously. The general picture emerging from this review is that the livelihood portfolios in Mbale, Kamuli and Mubende districts vary substantially between male- and female-headed households, and among men and women. In all three districts, household assets and endowments, which are important determinants of household income, are strongly differentiated between male- and female-headed households, with the latter consistently disadvantaged relative to their male counterparts. Evidence also suggests that households are diversifying away from farming due to land and capital constraints that make reliance on agriculture as a sole income source less viable. However, the potential for, and benefits of, diversification are contingent upon the nature of household headship, as well as upon the kinds of off-farm activities in which households are likely to engage.
While the Ugandan government has implemented a far-reaching approach to gender policy, FHHs face a number of de facto constraints that circumscribe their capacity to expand and/or diversify their livelihood portfolios. These include gender specific constraints such as unequal gender divisions of labour, gender intensified constraints such as asymmetries in land rights and financial capital, and gender imposed constraints such as discrepancies in the provision of credit. The paper argues that while certain constraints pose more serious challenges for the livelihood security of FHHs than others, changing the way gender relations are materially expressed will require long-term commitment to realise the government’s objectives of gender equity.
Dolan, C. Gender and Diverse Livelihoods in Uganda. (2002) 32 pp. [LADDER Working Paper No.10]