SESSION 1: 10:00 AM -11:30 AM

Panel C: Beating the Binary: Challenging Gendered Norms in Development Practices

C104 Hesburgh Center

Moderator: Vania Smith-Oka


Sustainable Fish Farming as an Income Generating Activity and Women’s Role in the Adaption of These Techniques

Marigrace Moses, University of Dayton

As Malawi’s population continues to grow, the issue of overfishing continues to restrict communities' access to quality sources of protein, such as fish. Fishermen are seeing the decline of fish populations in Lake Malawi due to their smaller yields of Chambo, one of the more common species of fish in a typical Malawian diet. In light of the practice of overfishing, communities have begun sustainable fish farming practices. The most common method observed and the topic of this study was pond fish farming. Through this technique, women’s roles have emerged in this sector of the fishing industry, since traditional fishing is male-dominated. Data was primarily collected from interviews conducted in the northern region of Malawi, Africa. Drawing from the study’s findings, one recommendation highlighted was empowering women to participate in sustainable fish farming. Another recommendation includes increased access to materials and labor for the ponds. Thorough and detailed recommendations will be sent to the NGO, Determined to Develop, as it expands on community projects.


Male Fishing Culture: An Exploration of Masculine Performance in Rural Malawi’s Fishing Industry

Josh Segalewitz, University of Dayton

In Malawi, more that two million people are employed or directly benefit from the fish value chain on Lake Malawi, which provides more than 90% of the fish to the country and contributes over 70% of the animal protein in Malawian diets nationally (Nagoli, Binauli, and Chijere 2018). However, the fish value chain remains a highly gender-segregated space, especially in rural areas. Men often dominate the fishing and fish trading segments in the supply chain, while women enter later in the processing and selling stages. This research project aims to understand the culture of masculinity in the fishing industry, particularly in the first two phases of the fish supply chain, and comment on the ways in which gendered expectations shape the ways that men perform. In particular, this project aims to understand masculine roles in rural Northern Malawi and uses in-depth interviews with fishermen and women married to fishermen to capture rich data describing experiences. From the collected data, conclusions were drawn connecting masculine roles embodied by fishermen to household and local economies, food security and food access, and gender equality in the fishing industry and beyond. Finally, this project makes recommendations to a local NGO (Determined to Develop) for further engagement with men who fish at the site where data was collected.



Social Networks and Maternal Health: Examining Spousal Involvement in Bududa, Uganda

Taylor Buck, University of Notre Dame

Uganda’s Ministry of Health reports that perinatal and maternal health problems account for 20.4% of the country’s total disease burden. It has been found that support from the husband can improve maternal health behaviors by facilitating better antenatal care attendance and safer delivery locations (Cheptum et al. 2017). However, it is important to recognize maternal health remains a female-dominated sphere across many areas of sub-Saharan Africa. I conducted in-depth interviews with 20 women presenting at a rural maternal health clinic in Bududa, Uganda and additionally conducted ethnographies for 5 cases of pregnancy complications at the clinic. Interviews were structured to address three categories (daily life, antenatal care, and preparation/delivery), in order to identify different forms of spousal support throughout the pregnancy experience. Previous research has mainly focused on male involvement in healthcare facilities, so this study sought to examine relevant spousal interactions in the home as well. The results reveal that some support roles are filled primarily by husbands, while other roles are filled by other female family members, thus illustrating it is important to view the husband’s role within the mother’s social network at large. Furthermore, the cultural context plays a significant role in the understanding of these social network interactions, which must be considered for development efforts aimed at promoting spousal involvement in maternal health.


Gendered Migration in Rural Nepal: Implications for Social and Economic Development as Informed by Women Left Behind

Alisha Kendrick-Pradhan, Davidson College

Male-outmigration has transformed the social and economic dynamics of communities across Nepal. In Sahanpur, Chitwan in the plains of Nepal, a lack of industry and opportunity has created a push factor for young men to migrate transnationally for work, particularly to the Middle East and South East Asia as countries emerge as industrial powers. In this agricultural society, women are then left to manage the household, do agricultural field work and raise children without their husbands. In this research I will attend to the primary question: What has been the impact of male out-migration on women left behind, and specifically how has this engendered the experience of poverty in rural Nepal?  I conducted participant observation ethnography and interviews in Sahanpur, Nepal. I conducted 70 interviews with women in this village regarding their experience as de-facto heads of household through their husband’s absence. The interviews revealed that social norms and expectations of women to conform to traditional roles prevent women in this village from migrating. Women in Sahanpur reported male migration to improve living conditions, particularly due to asset accumulation such as electronics, land, and a cement house. However, women are still responsible for agricultural work in Sahanpur with the burden varying depending on caste and economic status in which the burden is alleviated by  the use of mechanized agriculture tools or the employment of the labor of lower caste migrants. These results provide tangible suggestions to development organizations working with women in this community in the rural terai of Nepal.