Gender Roles in Economics

Women go foraging everyday for an average of 4hrs, usually in groups of about three to eight but never alone. Both sexes gather baobab and berries, but women take more of these back to camp than men or children do. Men spend an average of 6 hours foraging every day, usually alone, though sometimes in pairs, especially in the dry season when they hunt at night waiting to ambush animals that come to drink (Marlowe, 2003). Men always carry their bow and arrows and so are always ready to hunt, even when they are specifically going out for honey. They will climb tall baobab trees to get honey and sometimes fall to their death.

Husband and wife will often go foraging together once they get older, in their sixties. Even younger couples will forage together some during the honey season. The husband will look for honey while his wife is digging or gathering baobab nearby. The wife will take an infant with her, and sometimes even older children will accompany their parents. Toddlers are almost always left in camp because they are too young to walk far and too big to carry.

In camp, women do the food processing and cooking for the most part. However, men butcher large animals and will then sometimes put the meat on a fire to roast it. On rare occasions women kill some small animals, and they often butcher smaller animals and roast or boil the meat. Women (and children) fetch water and firewood every day. They usually tend the hearth, and it is interesting that they say they do not know how to make a fire with a fire-drill like men, but rather need to carry embers if no matches are available. Women do the sewing and also build the grass huts.

Females of all ages provide 55% of daily kilocalories brought into camp and males 45%. However, among married couples with children under 3 years of age, men provide 58% of the daily kilocalories brought into camp (Marlowe, 2003). The foods men bring into camp, especially large game, but also honey, is shared more widely outside the household than the foods women bring home, and therefore it is not clear how much men's food represents household provisioning (Hawkes, O'Connell, & Blurton Jones, 2001b). When a child's mother dies it is more likely to die, but it is not more likely to die if its father is not living with it (Blurton Jones, Marlowe, Hawkes, & O'Connell, 2000).

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