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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The governance networks supporting women entrepreneurs in West Africa

Chapter 5 maps the governance networks of actors involved in supporting the economic activities of women in West Africa. An analysis of partnerships between organisations shows, first, that international organisations and certain West African and European countries play a central role in the governance networks related to gender. A synthesis of the programmes, priorities and partnerships of nine organisations among the hundreds involved in this area of governance illustrates the diversity of initiatives designed to promote the place of women in the productive economy and commerce in West Africa. Finally, an analysis of relationships between individuals within these organisations suggests that this field of governance remains fragmented. Nearly one in four actors is disconnected from the central network. This fragmentation and the absence of major intermediaries in the network contributes to weak co-ordination of development policies designed to help women entrepreneurs in the region.

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