Research Key

Gender division of labour and women’s decision making power in rural households in Mundemba subdivision of South West region in Cameroon

Project Details

Gender Studies
Project ID
International: $20
No of pages
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
 MS Word & PDF

The custom academic work that we provide is a powerful tool that will facilitate and boost your coursework, grades and examination results. Professionalism is at the core of our dealings with clients

Please read our terms of Use before purchasing the project

For more project materials and info!

Call us here
(+237) 654770619
(+237) 654770619



 In many societies across the world, participation in market and non-market activities has long been determined by the gender factor.

The manifestation of gender inequality in society, particularly rural societies, can be traced to root causes like gender segregation in labour activities.

Lack of analysis on how household members allocate labour activities and make decisions in peasant societies leads to assumptions about the root causes of gender inequality, relevant counter strategies and on-going debate on the influence of income on women’s emancipation.

This study probes into the implications of gender division of labour on women’s household decision-making power in rural households of Mundemba Sub-division, South West Region of Cameroon.

This study is also based on three theoretical frameworks namely: the social theory elaborated by Karl Marx (1818-1883); the dependency theory developed under the guidance of the United Nations Economic Commission and lastly the feminist theory which was developed by Betty Friedan and a group of feminist movements.

The study reveals that there is a statistically significant gender segregation in income generating activities in the rural areas of Mundemba (Cramer’s V=0.352; p value=0.000).

The study also reveals that women’s labour activities and their income levels both have a statistically significant influence on their household, decision-making power in the study area.

Thus, they are also involved in cooperative societies. Again the study that women initiate household decisions, management of family properties, implementation of household decisions, feeding decisions, family planning decisions and are consulted in decision-making.

The study recommends an inter-stakeholder and integrated approach that involves all decentralised stakeholders, including traditional authorities, in the decision, implementation and follow-up of gender related development projects at grass root levels.

The intensification of sensitisation campaigns, stricter law enforcement, formalisation of property ownership, self-development as well as partnerships amongst public authorities, private enterprises and the civil society are recommended to curb gender segregation in market activities and household decision-making.



In many societies, most activities are performed along gender lines. In this regard, gender roles associated with masculinity and femininity may differ from society to society. That is, the activities performed by mostly women in one society maybe performed by  men in another. Regardless of this difference, a consistently observed pattern is that predominantly female  activities  are  accorded  less  prestige  and power by  society than  predominantly  male  activities  (Marger, 1990). This is likely to influence the rights and responsibilities in making decisions in terms of the allocation of resources as well as investment within households.

In the household, men and women are involved in different activities to ensure the availability of goods and services for family consumption. Although these activities are different, they are socially connected (Kabeer, 1994).There exist an intricate and changing relationship of cooperation and exchange between men and women, which is potentially conflictual (Miller and Razavi, 1998). Despite the conflictual nature of this relationship, gender division of labour in households is the main economic strategy used to meet family basic needs for shelter, food, health, procreation and education (Guyer and Henn, cited in Endeley, 1998).

In most rural societies, the allocation of activities to individuals depends on kinship, age, descent, culture, education, status and marriage. More fundamentally, gender plays a major role not only in the allocation of activities but also in decision-making (Andehmr, et al., 1997). More so, in relation to division of labour, activities are further broken down to market and non-market activities. Market activities are tradable activities through interactions between consumers and producers leading to monetary valuation of the activities. These activities may be formal or informal. Non-market activities are non-tradable activities with no monetary value attached to them. They may also be called reproductive activities. Non-market activities involve mothering, care of children and elderly household members, executing household chores and subsistence farming.

In Cameroon, traditional division of labour most often situates women in roles based on providing emotional support and maintenance, while men are primarily responsible for economic support and contact with the world outside the home. (Thompson and Hickey, 1994; Sainsbury, 1996). Although it is presumed that this division of roles works for the good of society, limiting men and women to specific roles may be dysfunctional to both sexes (Anderson and Taylor, 2000). Even though the value of women’s activities especially in catering for the family is quite vital, their work is frequently not included in national statistics. Most women, themselves, do not consider their chores as ‘work’ and thereby do not rate these activities as entitled to any form of recognition. This is a perception most often reflected in the inequalities that women suffer, and shows why it is unlikely that they will be active in decision-making.

The last decade has seen a great increase in the number of women in formal and informal income earning activities. While  in  the world,  families in  which  husband and wife are in the  labour force in formal  employment  are overwhelmingly  the norm (Hall,1994), in Third World countries, women dominate the  informal sector. In Cameroon, as in most part of Sub-Saharan Africa, almost all rural areas are predominantly agricultural. Women are primary actors in this sector. They produce mostly for household consumption, which is why they are mostly in food crop farming. Men are also in agriculture, but for the most part, are occupied with traditional export crop farming. Besides food crop farming, rural women are also engaged in other income earning activities.

The economic crises of the 1980’s and the subsequent Structural Adjustment  Programs(SAPs)  in  Cameroon  made life very difficult for households as many men in formal employment lost their jobs and cash crop farmers lost earnings because of the drop in the world  price of their commodities. Women had to supplement household incomes by including a market-oriented dimension to their farming (Endeley, 1998). Women no longer trade in just excess produce from their harvest, but are farming expressly for the market, indicating changing and transforming trends. The obligation to meet household needs and the increase in urban demand for food has made augmentation in food crop farming beneficial. Both men and women are now involved in food farming, not only to meet in-country demands, but also for export to neighboring countries. The involvement of men and women in food crop farming, and the increasing production of food crops for sales, is making the hitherto division of labour in rural areas blurred. For example, Fonchingong [1999], in a study of rural women group, found that the women in Southwest and Northwest Regions felt that the distinct division of labour by crop which existed prior to the crises has become blurred in some cases.

In addition to trading in food crops in their natural state, food crop processing is common in rural areas. This is a vital source of income, especially for women, which can hardly be neglected. In addition to agriculture activities, women in rural households are also engaged in small-scale enterprises, such as petty trading in items not grown on farms, as well as marketing of locally brewed alcoholic drinks. Furthermore, women’s involvement in paid activities is being advocated for and promoted by government and non-governmental organizations, mainly through training and provision of credit and loan facilities. This is in a bid to alleviate poverty in rural areas, as well as to economically empower women.

As Fonchingong (1999) notes, women’s contribution to the household is now more noticeable than in the past. They can contribute more as a result of their increased involvement in income earning activities. The ability to earn income can lead women to be more active in decision-making (Miller and Razavi, 1998), although Fonjong (2001) asserts that it is uncommon for women in Cameroon to be consulted on decisions affecting their productive and reproductive lives. Nevertheless, it is expected that the present increase in women’s involvement in market activities would translate to an increase in their decision-making power within the household.


Although rural areas contribute significantly to the economy of Cameroon, studies on rural households are not sufficiently available. This lack of analysis on how household members relate in peasant societies has led to a lot of assumptions about rural households (Moser, 1995)

Two Schools of Thought have been expressed by different authors on the relationship between income and decision-making. In the same light, Kabeer (1994) asserts that  remunerating work situated outside the home is known to  determine women’s fallback position, which in turn determines bargaining power in households.

Other authors hold a different view from those stated above. Savane (1986) notes that  earning income or getting involved in production is usually not a guarantee of such status acquisition. It is most likely because other forces, beyond the economic, affect women’s participation in market activities. Limited control over resources, especially land and limited access to capital or credit facilities, renders it difficult for women to generate higher income for themselves. The amount of non-market work, which demands their attention within the household, also makes it difficult for them to take advantage of education and training opportunities. This negatively affects the amount of knowledge and capability they possess. This cumulates to the low level of productivity and inefficient management of market activities. The cultural norms and beliefs, which hinder women’s participation in decision-making, reinforce their inadequacies in managing the limited resources needed in market activities in respective rural households in Cameroon.

Changes however, are occurring worldwide. Even though the effects of these changes on decision making power in rural household is still unclear, gender roles and perceptions are being affected by forces beyond the household (World Neighbours 2001). Because of economic changes, rural women have increased their participation in market activities. Thus, the necessity for further studies on changing division of labour and the influence that it has on decision -making. The increased participation in market activities is likely to reshape household relationships and consequently, decision making within households.



According to the protocol of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights(ACHPR) on the rights of Women in Africa, Article 9 stipulates on the rights of women to participate in the political and decision-making processes. There is that gap in terms of population in decision-making in the rural household between men and women in which the women are not fully involved in these processes in Cameroon. There is still gender inequality whereby the women do all the households activities . Meanwhile, as shown by Maryline Carr (1978), women work longer hours than  men  and they work from morning to evening. Paradoxically, all the efforts made by the women to sustain development activities in which this has contributed in widening the gap between men and women in the distribution of wealth and responsibilities that has affect the well-being of the family.[1]

In fact, fluctuating performance has caused poverty more on women and general livelihood. The woman spends her earnings on household while the man spends his on drinks. They are deterred from controlling and owing economic resources and land. According to MINDAF statistics of 2010 in Cameroon, only 645 women as opposed to 10,000 men own land in Cameroon .These cultural constraints in land inheritance have caused many women not to have control to household assets to support their production and to provide food to their families

In Cameroon, evidence shows that rural female-headed households have more limited access to a whole range of productive assets and services required for rural livelihoods, including: fertilizers, livestock, mechanical equipment, improved seed varieties, extension services and agricultural education. Women who do not own land  have  little  access to funds  due to the  fact  that  they are  concentrated  in poor rural  communities with  few opportunities to borrow money (Starche1996). ‘Rural women receive 10% credit for the rural world and remain excluded from land ownership that they can not use by proxy’. Rural women carry a great part of the burden of providing water and fuel for their households. For example, women spend more than twice as much time fetching wood and water per week. Collectively, women from Sub-Saharan Africa spend about 40 billion hours a year collecting water (Source; UNDP2011).



4.1Principal Research Question

To what extent do the implications of gender division of labour have on women’s decision-making power in rural housholds of Mundemba Sub-division?

4.2 Secondary Research Question

1- How can we identify market and non-market activities carried out by men and women in rural households of Mundemba Sub-division?

2- What determines women’s labour activities on their decision-making power in rural households in Mundemba Sub-division?

3- What factors influence women’s socio-cultural status on their household decision-making power in rural households  in Mundemba Sub-division?


 Principal Hypotheses

The socio-economic implications of gender division of labour have detered women from land ownership, equity in wealth and responsibilities and decision-making power in rural households of Mundemba  Sub-division.

Secondary Hypotheses

1 The market and non market activities include palm oil, hunting, plantain, house construction, teaching, petty businesses, hair dressing and local restaurants are used to carry out by men and women in rural households of Mundemba Sub-division.

2 The women’s labour activities include cooking, home management, subsistence farming and babysitting on their decision making power in rural households in Mundemba Subdivision.

3   Some of the factors that influence women’s socio-cultural status are limited access to finance, asset to property ownership, control of economic resources, marital status, marriage type, age, level of schooling, place of origin, village of residence, clan, and workload to carry out their household decision-making power in rural households of Mundemba Sub-division.


 Main Objective

The main objective of this study is to examine the implications of gender division of labour on women’s decision-making power in rural households of Mundemba Sub-division.

Specific Objectives

The specific objectives of the study are to:

  1. To identify  the  market  and  non-market  activities  carried  out  by  men  and  women  in  rural  households of Mundemba Sub-division.
  2. To determine the household decision-making process of rural households in Mundemba Sub-division.
  3. To assess the influence of women’s labour activities on their household decision-making in Mundemba Sub-division.
  4. To investigate the determinants of women’s household decision-making in rural households of Mundemba Sub-division.

[1] Maryline Carr, ‘’Appropriate Technology for Women in Appropriate Technology’’ Vol. 5 no1 1978.

Click here for more materials

Apply for an online Job here


Translate »
Scroll to Top