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Abstract

This study assessed access to and control over agricultural income and labor among smallholder farmers in Chipata, Zambia. Data was collected through 120 structured interviews, three focus group discussions, 17 key informant interviews, and desk analysis. Results show that joint decision making over agricultural income was fairly common (48 percent) in male-headed households, but uncommon (19 percent) in female-headed households. Men dominated decisions regarding household investments and livestock sales, while decisions about crop sales were jointly made with the women. Local gender norms restricted women's mobility and limited women's participation in more lucrative distant markets. Our results suggest that joint decision making among married couples is more common than routinely assumed, and assignment of control over agricultural resources is vested based on household headship, and not primarily gender. Our work highlights the importance of micro-level studies to inform program design and cautions against interventions based on assumptions of unilateral decision making by male household heads.

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