This article is a reflection on collaborative policy research on liberalisation, gender and livelihoods in the cashew sector in Mozambique. The research aims to examine the effects of liberalisation in the cashew sector from a gender perspective and to study the extent to which women and men's livelihoods may be enhanced by recent strategies to revive the sector. The article has two objectives: first, to illustrate the way in which representations of women's involvement in the cashew sector in earlier research can be contested (cracking some myths) and second, to illustrate some of the challenges involved in translating findings into policy messages, so as to not merely generate another set of myths. The article begins by providing a brief overview of cashew nut production, processing and trade and sets out the objectives and methods of the research. It then goes on to discuss findings related to women's access to land and cashew trees and the gender division of labour and benefits in cashew processing units. These findings challenged prevalent representations of women but posed difficulties in our attempts to translate them into policy messages. It concludes that some of these challenges arise from the pressures from funders and government to provide policy messages and practical recommendations relating to gender equality in an overall framework which emphasises poverty reduction within an essentially market-oriented neo-liberal approach to development.
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