Accepted paper:

'For the sake of my children': cash transfers, caregiving women, and 'new' household relations in the Kenya South Coast

Authors:

Jacinta Victoria Syombua Muinde (University of Cambridge)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how cash transfers have mediated gendered ideologies of reproduction and distribution that operate within the rubric of kinship to reinforce unequal claim-making relations between men and women that relegate and recharge caregiving as women’s responsibility.

Paper long abstract:

Cash transfer schemes have been widely examined in Africa, generally with a focus on quantitative evaluation of their social and economic impact. Yet with critical suggestions from gender scholars on the potential gendered effects of cash transfers, few studies have focused on the qualitative and gendered aspects of cash transfers. Using ethnographic fieldwork in the Kenyan South Coast where matrilineal organization has gradually transformed since the pre-colonial period, this paper explores the realities of cash transfers in the everyday lives of poor women heading households. Payments received from the cash transfer scheme for orphans and vulnerable children (CT-OVC) are significant means to these women's and their households' survival. I illustrate how cash transfers have offered opportunity for reinforcing woman-headship embroidered with gendered caregiving roles and responsibilities that women have to continuously ascend to within complex kinship ideologies of caregiving practices. I argue that by providing space for women's negotiation power over care for children, the CT-OVC operating in the Kenya South Coast has mediated production of 'new' gendered ideologies and relations of reproduction and distribution that operate within the rubric of kinship. This, in turn, has reinforced unequal claim-making relations between men and women and recharged caregiving as women's responsibility.

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