Gender, knowledge-sharing and management of shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) parklands in central-west Burkina Faso

Research on agroforestry largely continues to ignore the significance of gender relations in shaping natural resource management processes. To contribute towards filling this gap, this study focuses on gender dynamics in Burkina Faso's centre-west region to examine how gendered knowledge and preferences affect the management and conservation of shea parklands. In-depth interviews and free-listing exercises with Gurunsi and Moose women and men from Léo, Lan and Prata reveal that despite a strongly gendered division of labour, women and men hold overlapping areas of knowledge about shea uses, yields and shea nut characteristics. Further, men and women farmers detailed the same management practices and factors guiding the selection and conservation of shea trees in cultivated fields. Similar fidelity levels (FLs) calculated from women's and men's responses show that top-cited uses, preferences and practices correspond across gender groups. This congruence is partly due to participants' personal experiences with the species, but also to knowledge sharing between the spouses that guides decision-making. Findings illustrate that the widely held assumption that men decide in matters of tree management overlooks the important contributions women may make to the process. The shea case suggests that intra-household knowledge sharing and collaboration may hold greater significance for achieving resilient resource management strategies than has been described in previous works on African agroforestry.
Authors: Elias, M.
Subjects: gender
Publication type: ISI, Journal Article, Publication
Year: 2015
ISSN: 0743-0167

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