Occupational genders and gendered occupations: the case of water provisioning in Maputo, Mozambique

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Taking issue with how associations between technical prowess or entrepreneurship and masculinity tend to be taken for granted or are seen as stemming from natural or intrinsic gender differences, over the last two decades feminist scholars have developed theoretical approaches to understand the gendering of professions and abilities as the performative outcome of particular cultures and histories. We build on these insights to explore how associations between masculinities, technology and entrepreneurship shape ideas and practices of small-scale water provision in Maputo. Our findings show how activities (i.e. technical craftsmanship, hard physical work) or abilities (i.e. risk-taking, innovativeness) regarded as masculine tend to be considered the defining features of the profession. This shapes how men and women make sense of and talk about their work, each of them tactically emphasizing and performing those aspects best fitting their gender. Our detailed documentation of men’s and women’s everyday involvements in water provisioning challenges the existence of sharp boundaries and distinctions between genders and professional responsibilities. It shows that water provisioning requires many other types of work and skills and male and female household members collaborate and share their work. The strong normative-cultural associations between gender and water provisioning lead to a distinct under-recognition of women’s importance as water providers. We conclude that strategies to effectively support small-scale water businesses while creating more space and power for women involved in the business require the explicit recognition and re-conceptualization of water provisioning as a household business.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Place and Culture
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2017