A view of the transformation of Rwanda's highland through the lens of gender: A mixed-method study about unequal dependents on a mountain system and their well-being uri icon

abstract

  • Transformations of a mountain system are complex. However, the actions needed for the transformations are not always recognized as being gender biased. The Rwandan highlands are undergoing a rapid environmental and social-economic transformation. The government of Rwanda is pushing an economic and social transformation agenda with neoliberal and gender-mainstreamed agricultural policies. The primary purpose of this paper is to provide a gendered focus on the environmental and socioeconomic transformation of the Rwandan highlands and the impact of the transformation on the well-being and gender equality of its inhabitants. A mixed-methods design was used that involved quantitative data from a household survey. A total of 560 households were interviewed. Additionally, 47 qualitative interviews of different stakeholders involved in the ongoing transformations were completed. This study shows that all three transformations are occurring, but social transformation, especially the implementation of the gender-mainstreamed policies and laws on household level, is happening most slowly and faces the greatest obstacles. Women contribute considerable time and labour to household wealth and well-being, but their contributions are not matched by what they gain as household member. This study highlights that even with gender equal mainstreamed polices, these ongoing environmental and social-economic transformations have not closed the gender gap. The challenge is to identify alternative pathways and to promote the merits of gender equality, especially at the grassroots level. Moreover, diversification in income-generating activities is necessary, which requires a shift away from the agricultural sector to investment into education and training. A sustainable development pathway with a focus on gender equality could provide opportunities and new possibilities for both women and men, as well as for girls and boys.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019