chapter  3
26 Pages

Engendering responsibility in global markets: valuing the women of Kenya’s agricultural sector


For the last quarter of a century, development policies have been geared towards integrating African agriculture into the world market. The structural adjustment policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have sought to provide the economic and fiscal infrastructure for the development of the open, integrated, global markets envisaged in the multilateral trading framework of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Agriculture and various regional trading initiatives. In Africa, the development of global markets has been underpinned by a range of land reform policies. These are in part aimed at improving efficiency in the smallholding farming sector by creating ‘asset’ value in land which has traditionally been held primarily for its ‘use’ value.1 A side effect of these policies has been the development of an African agribusiness sector based primarily on horticulture, which relies on a plentiful supply of relatively cheap, ‘flexible’ labour. This chapter considers how these developments have impacted upon women’s

position in Kenya, an agriculture-based economy with a significant agribusiness sector. The chapter constructs two archetypes: women smallholder farmers and women who work in the agribusiness sector. It argues that if we do not recognise women’s social reproductive roles and the gendered assumptions implied in these responsibilities, they face deep injustices, both as farmers and as workers. The chapter then widens the discussion to consider the ways in which feminist concepts such as those based upon ethics of care and responsibility may be used in the governance of global markets, and to suggest the need for a wider and more redistributional understanding of gendered justice.