Women and Trade Networks in West Africa

image of Women and Trade Networks in West Africa

Women make a significant contribution to West Africa's food economy, perpetuating a long tradition of commerce and participating in cross-border trade and regional outreach. Their activities face numerous obstacles but also present important opportunities, highlighted in this report through an unprecedented relational and spatial analysis of social networks. The study focuses on the rice sector in the Dendi region (Benin, Niger and Nigeria) and on the regional governance networks that support women's entrepreneurship. It confirms that Nigeria occupies a privileged position due to its demographics and growing urbanisation. The report proposes the development of innovative public policies based on the reinforcement of the social capital of women and policy approaches that promote better integration of the initiatives undertaken by governments, international and non-governmental organisations to empower women and strengthen their resilience.

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Mapping trade and governance networks in West Africa

Chapter 3 discusses the methodological characteristics of social network analysis and its application to the study of the role of women in trade networks and the governance of women’s economic activities in West Africa. It shows that the analysis of social networks differs from that of value chains, usually used to visualise the phases of the process at which actors are integrated from raw materials to final product. Rather, social network analysis maps the ensemble of actors involved in an agricultural sector or in a type of public policy and measures their structural importance with respect to their attributes, such as gender or nationality. In recent years, social network analysis has seen a resurgence of interest amongst international organisations, progressively becoming a tool for public policy and a lever for local autonomy.

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