Sowing gender policies, cultivating agrarian change, reaping inequality? Intersections of gender and class in the context of marshland transformations in Rwanda

Johanna Treidl


Gender equality has become one of the top priorities throughout the political agenda of Post-Genocide Rwanda. A set of legal reforms, which aim at securing women’s land rights, together with the worldwide highest percentage of female parliamentarians have earned the government a lot of respect from the international donor community. At the same time, the state’s eager involvement in transforming the countryside into a modern, large-scale production zone, steers in a different direction: Vulnerable groups – among them many single mothers, poor or female headed households – are gradually excluded from this promising path of empowerment.
By focusing on the lived experiences of rural women, this paper illustrates how intersections of class-related risk management, gendered labour tasks, and different livelihood strategies rub up against the Rwandan vision of agrarian change. “Gender equality” thereby remains first and foremost a frequently used buzzword in political discourse.


Gender equality; Agrarian change; Intersectionality; Political discourse; Rwanda

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