War, drought and the failure of centrally planned economic policies have resulted in a reorientation of government priorities in Mozambique. Since the late 1980s, agricultural policy regarding food and cash crop production has shifted away from a dependence on state farms towards a reliance on commercial enterprises and the family sector. The government also has applied market principles to the purchase and processing of cash crops and allowed private companies to replace inefficient and poorly managed state enterprises. These decisions have not been adopted hastily; they have been accompanied by numerous studies that try to anticipate the possible impact of these changes at the micro and macro economic level.
Several of these studies are noteworthy in their attention to the position of rural women in Mozambique. They acknowledge the significant role played by women and they detail the numerous productive activities that rural women engage in, from planting and weeding to childcare and collecting firewood (Liberman 1988,1989,1992; Casimiro, Laforte, and Pessoa 1991; Andrade, Cardoso, Casimiro, and Louro 1992; UEM 1993). In light of the tremendous economic changes that the country is undertaking, many of the studies warn the government against policies that will marginalize women and urge officials to incorporate a gender component into projects and policies (Casimiro, Laforte, and Pessoa 1991; Liberman 1992).