Existence of gender imbalances is among the challenges of the agricultural production and marketing cooperatives Sub-Saharan Africa. Promotion of women-only cooperatives have been regarded as a better avenue to enabling women’s inclusion in the labour force and to achieve women’s empowerment. The ability of the cooperatives to achieving women’s empowerment and improving gender relations is still a debate which requires more empirical investigations. The study focused on two women’s dairy cooperatives societies in Kilimanjaro region, Tanzania to assess their effects on capabilities among women and gender relations in the households and community. Explorative research design was employed, which used in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with women cooperative members and their spouses. The findings revealed that through women’s cooperatives, women’s capabilities improved in terms of being able to run dairy production businesses, to generate more income and they gained full control over milk revenues. The findings further show that capabilities had little influence on the gender relations. The study found that in most households, the capabilities attained had widened the gap between couples. It was found that joint decision-making between the couples was impaired whereby men perceived women’s increased income and a fully control over generated income as a threat. The developed women’s agency could not change gender roles and social norms. As women’s workloads increased, men continued to dominate political leadership positions in the local government and the secondary agricultural cooperatives. The study concludes that women’s cooperatives do not lead to significant improvement in gender relations and gender equality. It recommends the involvement of men in women’s cooperatives activities to challenge intra-household gender relations, cultural and social norms.
Citation: Judith Samwel Kahamba, XU Xiuli (2021) Effects of Women’s Cooperatives on Capabilities and Gender Relations: Empirical Evidence from Women’s Dairy Cooperatives in Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania, International Journal of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development Studies, Vol.8, No.4, pp.62-80
Keywords: Agency, Capabilities, Gender roles., gender relations, gender transformation, women’s cooperatives