Human Ecology

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 433–454 | Cite as

Women's changing economic roles with pastoral sedentarization: Varying strategies in alternate Rendille communities

  • Elliot Fratkin
  • Kevin Smith


The trend of pastoral sedentarization in Africa presents new economic opportunities to women through the sale of dairy products, agricultural produce, and labor. This study of Rendille of northern Kenya shows a variety of economic strategies pursued by women in nomadic pastoral, settled agro-pastoral, and town communities. Results of household budgets and interviews with married women indicate that urban centers attract both wealthier Rendille women selling milk and poorer women engaged in wage-labor and petty commodity trade; time allocation data shows that women living in towns work as strenuously as those in pastoral communities, while men in towns work less than in pastoral communities and less than women in both communities; and anthropometric data of women and children suggest that increases in women's income may have a beneficial effect on the nutrition and well-being of their children.

Key words

women's economic roles pastoral sedentarization Rendille Kenya time allocation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elliot Fratkin
    • 1
  • Kevin Smith
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySmith CollegeNorthampton
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park

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