The ability of household members to influence intra-household decision-making outcomes also differed. Participants described many instances when men and WFHH gained, retained, and exercised command over the pig enterprise and pig-enterprise income. Men made overt decisions about buying and selling pigs, and about how pig-enterprise income was used. Some men bought pigs because they “are the ones with money” indicating men’s access to financial resources was greater than that of women. Even if women provided all of the labour required to raise men’s pigs, some men sold the pigs and refused to let women express their opinion about how the income was spent. If men and women owned pigs together, some men took control over decision-making. Men sold women’s pigs unbeknownst to women and without women’s permission and when women were away (for instance at a burial). Men sold pigs owned by children (gifted to them by World Vision) and the wife had no input into the decision to sell or how the income was spent. Our findings are similar to others who report that although women owned livestock they did not have full control over the use and sale of the livestock or livestock products (e.g. milk and eggs) nor were they able to make decisions about the use of income from sales of livestock or livestock products .
Some men said that men no longer behave that way, or hoard money, because women know the law (their marital benefits rights). However, some women who owned pigs had to give their husband a piglet or money as compensation for the pig being raised in the man’s home. This was because even if the pig is a woman’s project, the project belongs to the man because it is done in his home. Other researchers report similar statements by Kenyan smallholder farmer FGD participants, for instance, who stated “Everything with blood in the household belongs to the man” . Although “women claimed to have some influence in the selling”, it was men who owned the animals . Therefore, men had the authority to sell animals and dominated decision-making about selling them despite women dominating decision-making about daily care of animals .
In our study, in some households, men and women each owned pigs and each made decisions about their own pig. Also some men had to consult with their wives about the price at which to sell pigs before a sale could be made.
At times men made decisions about how pig-enterprise income was allocated that women described as unfair and inequitable for women and children. Sometimes men indirectly controlled women’s pig-enterprise income by refusing to pay for household needs requiring women to use their income instead.
Men also had overt control over their wives’ behaviour. For instance, men did not allow women to sell their [women’s] pigs. Men also ordered women to sell their [women’s] pigs to solve a financial problem at home even though women were raising pigs with another objective in mind. Other authors report that in Ugandan societies “women tend to abide by male authority to avoid community gossip and to keep their marriages ‘stable’” although some women are beginning to defy these cultural norms .
One WFHH suggested men used physical violence, or the threat of it, to retain overt decision-making ability. Moreover, she said women are submissive and because of potential physical harm a woman would yield and would not challenge a husband’s decision (about how to spend pig-enterprise income). Although only one woman mentioned domestic violence, her statement is notable, particularly since domestic violence is a sensitive topic about which participants may not have wished to speak. Other authors argue that “because women’s status is intertwined with their husband’s, there are strong social pressures for women not to reveal personal feelings about their marital relationships that might undermine their commitment to the established social order” . This may explain why only one participant mentioned domestic violence.
In Uganda, many (56.1%) 15–49-year-old women reported having experienced physical violence since the age of 15 . Most commonly the perpetrator was their current (60%) or former (18.9%) husband or partner . Similarly, most (55.7%) 15–54-year-old men reported having experienced physical violence since age 15; however, far fewer men reported that their current (31.1%), or former (5.4%) wife or partner, was the perpetrator . In Central Region, the location of this study, 28.9% of women and 20.6% of men reported that a husband was justified in beating or hitting his wife if she argued with him . Also, if a wife goes out without telling her husband (for instance to sell a pig), 51.3% of women reported a husband was justified in beating or hitting his wife and 31.5% of men reported it was justified . When the report was released, The Daily Monitor, a leading national Ugandan newspaper reported that Mr. Bedha Balikudembe, the communications coordinator of Isis Wicce, a women’s rights organisation, said that women accepted wife beating as a “sign of love from their husbands” .
These customary cultural attitudes are telling and indicate that customary law is in sharp contrast to statutory law, namely The Domestic Violence Act of 2010. As other authors describe, the act states that “A person in a domestic relationship shall not engage in domestic violence” . Moreover, “The consent of the victim shall not be a defence to a charge of domestic violence under this Act” . Other authors provide an in-depth discussion of the history and challenges associated with implementing this act, but for reasons of brevity we will not discuss it here . Suffice to say that customary law associated with domestic violence and the statutory law that criminalizes domestic violence are sharply juxtaposed within Central Region, Uganda. The threat of personal violence, and some men and women’s attitude that domestic violence is justified, undoubtedly play a role in women’s (in)ability to make decisions about pig buying and selling and the allocation of pig-enterprise income.
Men also had overt decision-making ability over pig buying and selling, and pig-enterprise income allocation even when they did not own the pig and even when the pig’s owner, a woman, had a different objective in mind when raising the pig. Other researchers report that livestock ownership at the household level is gendered, and women are more likely to own less valuable, smaller livestock (for example pigs) than men . However, in their study of smallholder pig-keeping families in Gulu and Soroti districts in Uganda, other researchers reported pigs were owned by husbands in 66% of households and by wives/women in 23% of households . Thus, fewer women than men owned pigs. Regardless, our study demonstrates that ownership of pigs and labour investments by Ugandan smallholder farm women did not guarantee decision-making ability, nor did it guarantee they would command or benefit from pig-enterprise income. Similarly, other researchers report that joint ownership did “not necessarily translate to joint decision making on assets” and that “within-couple inequality of rights can persist in joint ownership” . Other studies also report that very few co-owners needed their co-owner’s involvement to sell or bequeath land which may explain the sale of pigs, a much less valuable commodity, without the co-owner’s consent . The findings of our study support arguments put forward by other researchers, that future research and development projects in Uganda need to be aware of the complex nature of the gender norms related to ownership and asset control, and to investigate the potential impacts that interventions may have on the ownership, control, and use of assets .
Similar to men, WFHH made overt decisions about buying and selling pigs, and about how pig-enterprise income was used. Women in female-headed households gained, retained, and commanded control over pigs and pig-enterprise income allocation. Since they were head of the household, just like men, WFHH had overt decision-making ability.
In contrast, as mentioned earlier some WMHH did not gain, retain, or command control over the pig enterprise or pig-enterprise income rather their husbands exercised overt control. However, some WMHH gained, retained, and commanded control over pigs and pig-enterprise income allocation but reported “it depends”. According to WMHH, in some households, families discussed buying a pig and then men did the buying and in other households women took the initiative and bought a pig. However, according to WFHH, it was usually the women in male-headed households, and not the men, who bought pigs because women wanted to alleviate household poverty so decided to rear pigs.
Although men said they did not allow women to sell pigs, WMHH said that if their husband was not available then women could “look for the market”. Moreover, WMHH said that if they owned the pig then they did not have to consult with men about how to spend the money, but if the pig was owned jointly then they must consult. These findings are similar to others who report the ability of smallholder farming widows in western Kenya to do “everything [related to the pig enterprise] all by herself” . Moreover, other researchers report that in western Kenya, 46% females and 54% males negotiated the selling price with butchers indicating men and women are both involved in pig sales in east Africa .
In our study, some husbands did not ask their wives for money from the pig-enterprise. They only asked how the money was going to be spent, and were happy that their burden to provide was lessened, which creates an additional burden on women to provide. Thus, some wives had command over income allocation and their husbands did not try to remove or reduce their wives’ command. Others researchers report similar findings that “a woman’s relationship with her partner shapes her asset rights” .
Additionally, WMHH said that sometimes they could decide how to spend the income from pigs because their husbands were no longer looking after them. A study of gender and tourism work in Uganda reports similar findings that men’s support of women is waning and rather than help their wives, men have “resorted to unproductive alcohol drinking” . In that study, one participant described herself as “both a man and a woman” in her household because she receives so little help from her husband .