Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Regional Research Institute

Document Number

Working Paper 9814


Regional Research Institute


This paper examines the contextual nature of gendered livelihood strategies through a comparative study of rural women”s producer groups in former homelands of South Africa and Appalachia. This comparative approach situates gendered livelihood strategies in distinct local contexts that are constituted by specific historical dynamics and cultural relations. Producer groups are defined here as cooperatives, networks, and other collective economic activities that generate income for households and are part of community-based economic strategies. The discussion focuses on the link between socio-economic conditions and gendered livelihood strategies and the economic viability of these producer groups as sustainable income-generating activities, especially in rural areas. The comparison of production and marketing strategies of a sewing group in South Africa and a knitting group in Appalachia reveals similarities, yet important differences that derive from their specific historical and cultural contexts. In sum, this research advances knowledge of gender and rural development by comparing the gendered nature of collective economic strategies in two peripheral regions of the so-called First and Third World.