Gender and Soy

Women in the soybean sector

Prior to the decline in tobacco production in Malawi, soybean was mainly a female crop, much like groundnut. However, men now participate in almost all roles, from plating to harvesting. In male-headed soybean farming households that utilise family labour, women work alongside men, and are assisted by children at times of high intensity activity. However, exception to this collective approach to labour exists in activities such as threshing, winnowing and cleaning, which are usually performed by women due to traditional gender roles.
As manual threshing is highly time consuming and arduous, MOST is supporting market players to develop viable solutions for mechanical threshing. In this context, care will be taken, as in the groundnut sector, to ensure that any shifts away from manual threshing do not harm, but rather benefit women. Part of MOST’s efforts in this regard is a study on potential effects of mechanical threshing that also considers strategies to ensure that women play an active role in mechanical threshing of soybeans.