Journal Article

Gender and Economic Development in Africa: An Overview

Damiano K. Manda and Samuel Mwakubo

in Journal of African Economies

Volume 23, issue suppl_1, pages i4-i17
Published in print January 2014 | ISSN: 0963-8024
Published online January 2014 | e-ISSN: 1464-3723 | DOI:
Gender and Economic Development in Africa: An Overview

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  • General Economics
  • Household Behaviour and Family Economics
  • Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
  • Economic Development


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Despite progress made towards achieving gender equality in African countries for instance by ratification of international and regional conventions and commitments by African countries, gender inequality is still prevalent and continues to be a major challenge in Africa. The majority of women work in the informal sector or on small pieces of land and are engaged in care work with little or no pay. Also, women have limited access to credit, land, agricultural inputs, equipment and extension services, as well as markets for their produce than men. Some of the inequities are embedded in the deep-rooted cultural norms and beliefs in the African societies. To some extent, the inequalities can partly be addressed by changing of policies that reinforce gender inequalities as well as formulating and enforcing laws that promote women's economic empowerment. Thus, more comprehensive research work is still required to highlight challenges associated with gender inequality and what needs to be done to move towards reducing gender inequality. The four papers in this journal supplement explore the issue of gender inequality and look at theoretical and empirical relationship between gender and economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa. The first paper by Seguino and Were is on Gender, Development and Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. The paper shows that a shift in emphasis of central bank targets to employment and public investment can help reduce gender gap. The second paper by Cheryl Doss focuses on Collecting Gender Disaggregated Data to Improve Development Policies. Its main finding is that consistent measures of gender asset and wealth gaps provide a means of tracking important dimensions of policies designed to reduce poverty and promote economic growth. The third paper is on Gender and Economic Empowerment in Africa: Evidence and Policy by Naomi Netsayi Wekwete. The paper shows that initiatives that improve women's economic empowerment such as skills training among others promote economic growth and development. Finally, the fourth paper by Nancy Folbre is on The Care Economy in Africa: Subsistence Production and Unpaid Care. The main finding of the paper is that economic policies that reduce the care burden on women with investments that enhance reproductive choice increase the productivity of unpaid work and pool the risks of caring for dependents through social insurance which promotes economic growth by improving the capabilities of both women and children to free up labour time for more remunerative activities.

Keywords: A13; D13; O11; O12; O15; O43

Journal Article.  4911 words. 

Subjects: General Economics ; Household Behaviour and Family Economics ; Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity ; Economic Development

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