African Journal of Gender and Women Studies

African Journal of Gender and Women Studies ISSN 2516-9831 Vol. 4 (3), pp. 001-008, March, 2019. © International Scholars Journals


Development studies discourse: How gender-sensitive are sustainable livelihood frameworks?

Frank S. Arku1* and Cynthia Arku2

1Faculty of Development Studies, Akuapem Campus, Presbyterian University College, Ghana.

2Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Accepted 18 January, 2019


Over the last two decades development studies professionals are drawing on Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) framework to understand the various livelihood strategies available to rural people. The unadventurous development top-down approaches identify only ‘one’ livelihood strategy in the form of ‘employment’ that supports them. This paper discusses the SL frameworks from the viewpoints of United Kingdom Department for International Development’s (DFID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and maintains that despite the many advantages of SL as diagnostic framework in development studies discourse, the framework lacks specificity on what ‘activities’ provide a means of living. Without a clear explanation of the activities, their livelihood analysis can be best characterized as gender-insensitive because there is a high risk of overlooking certain non-market activities, such as women’s housework. This deficiency in the SL is epitomized from a feminist perspective, problematizing the increasing devaluation and undervaluation of women’s reproductive, productive and community management work in the modern economy and the need to deconstruct structural barriers to gender equal relations.

Key words: Gender, women, sustainable livelihoods, productive, reproductive, community responsibilities.