Livelihoods diversification and gender in Malawi

Livelihoods diversification and gender in Malawi


More than 50% of the population of Malawi lives in rural areas, in extreme poverty. Women and men have significantly different roles in the making of livelihoods. The country’s economy is based on agriculture which is vulnerable to many shocks, forcing the people to diversify to other economic activities. Male headed and female headed homes respond differently to these shocks. Malawi’s gender policy is aiming at reducing the current gender of disparities.


Household surveys were done using questionnaires at Machinga district in Southern Malawi to analyze livelihood diversification in relation to gender. A two- stage cluster sampling was used for the demographic data. A multinomial discrete choice model was used to analyze the determinants of livelihood diversification. The study was done as part of the World vision’s routine assessment of livelihoods in the district to capture various aspects of livelihoods. 


According to the authors, male headed homes tend to generate more income than female headed homes. In diversification, male headed homes venture into more capital intensive activities like fishing and they have better access to credit for agriculture. This calls for implementation of policies that empower women and those that strengthen other non- farm economic activities.


Simtowe, F. P. (2010). Livelihoods diversification and gender in Malawi. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 5(3), 204-216.


  • University of Malawi, Center for Agricultural Research and Development, P. O. Box 219, Lilongwe, Malawi.