Households headed by women: all poor and vulnerable? The case of south eastern Madagascar

Jossie Randriamiandrisoa, UMI RĂ©siliences (France) and CRD-UCM (Madagascar)

During the last decades, the number of households headed by women has increased both in Northern and Southern societies. Various factors contribute to that phenomenon: wars and conflicts, male migration, family disruption, unpartnered adolescent fertility... According to several studies, households headed by women have specificities compared to households headed by men. This can be related to an unfavorable demographic structure, such as a relatively higher proportion of dependents. Access to some crucial resources (land, income, credit, social network...) can also be limited for these households due to gender inequalities. In addition, the frequently observed over-representation of households headed by women among the poorest led to consider them as more deprived or more vulnerable compared to households headed by men. The need of specific policy towards women headed households has been raised. However, this classification of households headed by women as the poorest or the most vulnerable gave rise to controversy. Some studies showed that this is not always true. This paper aims at highlighting a possible heterogeneity within the group of households headed by women and at developing a typology by using data from rural observatories. The identification of differences between types of households headed by women, along with differences with households headed by men, would help to improve public policy or anti-poverty strategies through a better targeting. Preliminary results showed the existence of a subgroup of households headed by women among the wealthier households and among those who are better off in terms of agricultural production and food security. The results on landholding in particular suggest that there is a superposition of inequalities (social inequalities and gender inequalities) that may lead to various situations of households headed by women.

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Presented in Poster Session 2