Women’s prime role in cotton production is in land preparation, planting, weeding and picking of seed cotton. Due to health concerns, few if any women spray crops with potentially hazardous insecticides/pesticides.

Although both men and women are free to market their crop, due to the tied out-grower schemes they have no influence over the price paid to them. Where there is a choice of ginners, men tend to dictate which out-grower scheme they will use. Empirical evidence suggests that men will collect the money for the seed cotton delivered to the ginning company/out-grower. Based on farmer group discussions, men often fail to return home with the money! Failure to use the cotton income prudently has a negative impact on the whole household. Women tend to be more careful and spend the money to support the household.

Currently, there is little, or no, value addition in the Zambian cotton chain. There is potential, for women to gain influence in the added value sector by working in groups to access funds to set-up micro-processing enterprises, e.g. produce items on simple handlooms, etc.

Land ownership: Traditional land generally pass from male relative to male relative. Culturally, headmen expect married women to be supported by their husbands, i.e. family land controlled by their husband. When their spouse dies in many instances the deceased husband’s family passes control of the land to another male relative. Women can own land but it is more difficult for them. Access to credit often depends on land-ownership. This is a key area where the CAZ can lobby on behalf of women cotton farmers. Based on the CAZ baseline report, there appears to be little evidence of gender lobbying and advocacy at farmer level.

In 2012, women accounted for 29% of the CAZ paid-up membership. The CAZ with the support of Swedish Cooperative Centre under its programme “Farmer Organisations Fighting Poverty and Injustice” (FOFPI) is committed to increasing rural households incomes by a gender inclusive stance from institutional representation and participation throughout its activities. The CAZ is keen to share lessons learnt and collaborate with the FOFPI partners in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe