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The contribution of African women to economic growth and development in post-colonial Africa : historical perspectives and policy implications

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  • Akyeampong, Emmanuel
  • Fofack, Hippolyte
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    Abstract

    This paper draws on history, anthropology, and economics to examine the dynamics and extent of women's contribution to growth and economic development in post-colonial Africa. The paper investigates the paradox of increased female enrollment in education and the persistence of gender discrimination in labor force participation; it also considers the overwhelming importance of the informal economy in female economic activity. The first axis the paper studies is whether reducing educational gender gaps enhances growth in per capita gross domestic product and reduces female fertility rates and infant mortality. The question is, why would some African countries resist this pattern? The second axis examines agriculture and home production. Women's economic activities in the informal economy largely represent the commercialization of domestic skills and dependence on social networks. The shunting of female production to the informal sector in the male-dominated colonial economy is easy to understand, but why has the informal economy persisted where female production is concerned well beyond the colonial period? The paper attempts to explain these trajectories by using country case studies on Senegal, Botswana, and Kenya. Although women's contribution to growth and economic development seems to be positive and significant in predominantly Christian and mineral-rich economies, it is more constrained in pronounced Muslim dominated countries and agrarian economies. At the same time, impressive uniform growth in informal sector production in recent years suggests that occupational job segregation and gender inequality remain strong across the region, despite the apparent loosening of traditional norms and cultural beliefs, most notably illustrated by the reduction in educational gender gaps and increased female labor force participation rates.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6537.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jul 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6537

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    Keywords: Gender and Development; Population Policies; Primary Education; Gender and Law; Achieving Shared Growth;

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    2. World Bank, 2011. "World Development Indicators 2011," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2315.
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    4. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "Luther and the Girls: Religious Denomination and the Female Education Gap in Nineteenth-century Prussia," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(4), pages 777-805, December.
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    7. Cooray, Arusha & Potrafke, Niklas, 2011. "Gender inequality in education: Political institutions or culture and religion?," Munich Reprints in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 20110, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    8. Ainsworth, M., 1995. "The Impact of Female Schooling on Fertility and Contraceptive Use. A Study of Fourteen Sub-Saharan Countries," Papers, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement 110, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
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    12. Lagerlof, Nils-Petter, 2003. " Gender Equality and Long-Run Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 403-26, December.
    13. Berta Esteve-Volart, 2004. "Gender Discrimination and Growth: Theory and Evidence from India," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics 42, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    14. Damien Echevin & Fabrice Murtin, 2009. "What Determines Productivity in Senegal? Sectoral Disparities and the Dual Labour Market," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(10), pages 1707-1730.
    15. Sarah Baird & Craig McIntosh & Berk �zler, 2011. "Cash or Condition? Evidence from a Cash Transfer Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1709-1753.
    16. Baliamoune, Mina N., 2002. "Assessing the Impact of One Aspect of Globalization on Economic Growth in Africa," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    17. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299, November.
    18. Mina Baliamoune-Lutz & Mark McGillivray, 2009. "Does Gender Inequality Reduce Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa and Arab Countries?," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 21(2), pages 224-242.
    19. Seth W. Norton & Annette Tomal, 2009. "Religion and Female Educational Attainment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(5), pages 961-986, 08.
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