Women in many West African countries are famous for their numerical dominance and powerful organisations in several branches of the informal economy. In many other parts of Africa, women have been less visible and powerful in their economic positions. With the dramatic political and economic reforms that African countries are going through gender relations in the informal economies - where most economically active women make their living - are changing. This project seeks to analyse the articulation between culture-specific ideas about gender-appropriate behaviour and structural conditions shaped by state policies and local, national and global economic conditions in the informal economies of Western and Southern Africa. The analysis will focus on 1) how different gender patterns emerged in the informal economies of selected countries in Western and Southern Africa and 2) how structural changes in the 1980s and 1990s have impacted upon gender relations in these informal economies. The project will review existing literature and conduct new empirical case studies in selected cities.

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