In this essay, we will look at how rural development has changed people’s social ideals and beliefs towards gender roles, and as a consequence either had a positive or negative impact on gender relations within African society. To reach a conclusion must first look at the wider socio-political context of Africa and how colonization and neo-colonization has affected ruralisation and peoples economic security. Africa is so geographically large and culturally diverse that it would be impossible for me to give one culturally definite answer for this question; instead I will look at anthropological research of individual communities.

Kesla defining gender as “a set of prescriptions and proscriptions for behaviour- expectations about what behaviours are appropriate for a person holding a particular position within a particular social context” (Kessler, 1978, 11).

The study of gender within a society is important because it allows us to understand and reflect on how a society distributes political power, wealth, resources and social status. Gender can dictate towards different roles within a society and by understanding how a culture defines gender, we can understand the culture itself. The study of gender relations are particularly important in times of economic struggle or change, as it expresses the wider social and political context of the ideas and values of wealth distribution and resources flows.

With the rapid change of rural economies under the name of “development”, it has had a social, economic and political impact within different communities in Africa. There is no universal model on how rural development has affected gender relations, but by using various anthropological and ethnographic research within different African communities, I find there tends to be an underlying theme of

“reorganisations of household forms, divisions of labour and domestic responsibilities”(Francis, 1995, 1) between the “household unit?…

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