Objectives: This study was designed to explore the interactions between food securing activities, health and gender equity from the perspective of rural east African women. The specific objectives were to document the critical interaction among these three issues-food security, gender inequity, women's health within the context of sub-Saharan Africa; to describe the nature of this triad from the perspective of women farmers in Africa; and to propose a framework for linking available interventions to the vicious nature of this triad.
Setting: In-depth interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with rural women farmers in Kwale District, Kenya and Bagamoyo District, Tanzania.
Methods: A total of 12 in-depth interviews and 4 focus group discussions have been included in this analysis. Transcribed text from interviews and focus group discussions were coded and thematic conceptual matrices were developed to compare dimensions of common themes across interviews and settings. A thematic analysis was then performed and a framework developed to understand the nature of the triad and explore the potential for interventions within the interactions.
Findings: The vicious cycle of increasing work, lack of time, and lack of independent decision making for women who are responsible for food production and health of their families, has health and social consequences. Food securing activities have negative health consequences for women, which are further augmented by issues of gender inequity.
Conclusion: The African development community must respond by thinking of creative solutions and appropriate interventions for the empowerment of women farmers in the region to ensure their health.