Women’s Empowerment for Demographic Issues and Conflicts in African Pastoralist Societies

María Rosa Cevallos, Pablo Manzano

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Widespread conflict is a recurring issue in African pastoralist societies. While its roots are debated, there is a missing link with prevailing poverty among communities and particularly among women. We here apply a gender perspective to establish a hypothesis on the role of women in pastoralist conflicts.

The existing polygynic system establishes a violent frame for pastoralist women, who would be sold at increasingly early ages to provide in turn enough resources for furnishing the dowry needed by their brothers. The control on them would thereby be transferred from their own families to their husband and his family, where they have also to endure competition for resources with other wives. Survival strategies are linked with fertility, as a higher offspring allow women a higher access to power and resources. This has, however, negative individual consequences in terms of personal health and workload, as well as a higher collective burden on reduced per-capita income and increased poverty. The latter is more severe for women, having restricted access to resources and decision-making.

Delivery of formal education is particularly weak among pastoralist societies. It is, however, an empowerment tool that contributes to higher well-being across the community. Firstly, it allows economic diversification and establishment of independent income sources. And secondly, it provides women with the tools to decide on their reproductive health that have consequences on poverty - both at controlling fertility and increasing investment in children’s education. ICT brings here a further possibility to access information not subjected to the control of men in their family, potentially being an important empowerment tool for women and thereby a tool for conflict mitigation or resolution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationXXIV International Grassland Congress / XI International Rangeland Congress : Sustainable Use of Grassland and Rangeland Resources for Improved Livelihoods
Number of pages4
PublisherKenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization
Publication date29 Oct 2021
Article number3
ISBN (Print)978-9966-30-093-5
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventInternational Grassland Congress & XI International Rangeland Congress - Nairobi, Kenya
Duration: 25 Oct 202129 Oct 2021
Conference number: XXIV

Publication series

PublisherUniversity of Kentucky
ISSN (Electronic)2476-2350

Fields of Science

  • 5200 Other social sciences

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