Gender and structural adjustment policies : a case study of Harare, Zimbabwe
Research on the effects of Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs), implemented in Third World countries since the early 1980s, has been dominated, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, by the analysis of quantitative, national-level data. The relationship between gender and SAPs at the household level has been largely neglected. This thesis examines the above relationship in Harare, Zimbabwe where the government's recent adoption of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, ESAP (1991-95) has allowed a study of the processes of change at the household level following changes in macro-economic and social policies. Quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to provide an integrated picture of changes in the lives of women and men in a random sample of 100 households in one typical high-density suburb in Harare. A base-line study was carried out in mid-1991 and the same households followed up in mid-1992. Gender-specific changes in employment and income, household expenditure, domestic work and involvement in social organisations were investigated as well as responses to the dramatic rises in the cost of living following measures implemented under ESAP. The research shows that almost all households have been negatively affected by ESAP, with widening income differentials and a much greater proportion of households falling below the Poverty Datum Line. Household savings have been depleted and a greater number of households are in debt. Women's income has declined to a greater extent than men's and their responsibility to meet daily consumption needs of the household has become more difficult to fulfil, resulting in increased gender-based conflict. Although all households were forced to cut consumption, the poorest households have been worst affected with women taking greater cuts than men. Coping responses were found to be individual and family-based, sometimes across urban and rural areas, rather than community-based. Responses have been defensive, aimed at coping with rather than changing the situation, and largely ineffective in compensating for declining real wages, rising prices and diminishing income generating opportunities. The relationship between changes at household level and specific policy measures were assessed and the evidence indicates that both income and gender based inequalities have, to date, been exacerbated by ESAP. The Social Dimensions of Adjustment poverty alleviation programme is very weak in its conceptualisation and implementation. The study emphasizes the need for more equitable and gender-sensitive strategies for development.