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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 role of women in the West African economy

Chapter 1 highlights the crucial contribution of West African women to the region’s food and commercial economy. It demonstrates that these activities are subject to numerous socio-economic and institutional obstacles that limit the participation of women in commercial activities. This chapter analyses these gender inequalities using a relational approach that maps relationships between economic and political actors in social networks. The first case study explores the value chains of the rice trade between Benin, Niger and Nigeria and identifies barriers that limit the participation of women in areas of production and commercialisation. The second case focuses on governance networks and highlights the challenges faced by public policies designed to promote the economic participation of women in the region.

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