Economic performance, gender and social networks in West African food systems


Gender profoundly affects livelihood prospects and generates many inequalities that limit West African women’s participation in the food system. Drawing on work conducted by the Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD), this article, published by Olivier Walther, Michel Tenikue and Marie Trémolières in the World Development magazine, measures the effects of income and gender on informal social networks in the rice value chain. It uses primary data collected on 490 entrepreneurs in Benin, Niger and Nigeria. The analysis shows that monthly profit of entrepreneurs is determined by their structural position within the rice value chain. Women are less central than men and their incomes are much lower  -- after controlling for age, experience, education, religion and matrimonial status. “These gender gaps justify public policies specifically targeted at women involved in production and marketing, in order to reduce the barriers that limit their access to markets, transportation, credit and education,” explain the authors. Moreover, network-based strategies could facilitate the dissemination of ideas and practices within each subgroup of actors and between communities, thus helping to close the gender gaps.

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