The impact of 'women's empowerment in agriculture' on household vulnerability to food insecurity in the KwaZulu-Natal province
Forum for Development Studies
School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Discipline of Agricultural Economics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; African Centre for Food Security, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
It is argued that empowering women in smallholder agriculture is very crucial in reducing vulnerability to food insecurity among rural households. This study contributes to this literature by adapting the vulnerability as expected poverty approach to determine which dimensions of 'women's empowerment in agriculture' reduces household's vulnerability to food insecurity based on cross-section data collected from 300 randomly selected primary female heads-of-households in Msinga rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. It was found that empowering women in socio-cultural aspects that creates hindrances in agriculture reduces the probability of their households being vulnerable to food insecurity. Surprisingly, access to irrigation and improved water-use security did not significantly influence household vulnerability to food insecurity. However, other forms of women's empowerment including economic agency and physical capital empowerment were found to reduce the likelihood of a household being vulnerable to food insecurity. Women with high levels of financial capital empowerment invested less in other capital assets and were more vulnerable to food insecurity in the future. In addition to women's empowerment, demographic characteristics of a household influence its vulnerability status. A household's vulnerability to food insecurity reduces as the husband's income increases but increases with increased dependency ratio. It was concluded that empowerment in agriculture alone is not a panacea to reduce household vulnerability to food insecurity. Efforts should be made to improve physical assets that determine the off-farm income earning and agricultural production capacity of households. © 2015 Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).
agricultural production; capital; empowerment; food security; smallholder; vulnerability; womens status; KwaZulu-Natal; South Africa