In Africa, economic crisis has led to a 'feminization of survival' where responsibilities for dealing with poverty increasing rely on women's shoulders. This panel seeks to explore intensification of female labor force participation and its impact on gender and intra-household dynamics.
In several African countries, especially in West Africa, women have a long tradition of involvement in independent market activities. While women's labor force participation, especially in the informal sector of the economy, is nothing new in many parts of the continent, scattered evidence suggest that the dynamics of female employment has been changing since the 1990s. The prolonged economic crisis and structural adjustment have strongly affected women's labor force participation. In cities, increasing cost of living, male unemployment and decreasing real income of household heads have forced wives and daughters to multiply their economic activities within the informal sector. The growing contribution of women's to household income is often going far beyond supplementing for small daily expenditures and, in several cases, women have become the sole or primary breadwinner within the family. The 'feminization of survival' where responsibilities for dealing with poverty increasing rely on women's shoulders is also visible in the intensification of female labor migration both within and outside African countries since the 1990s. While the feminization of labor force participation is often believed to have led to a 'silent revolution' within households its actual impact on gender and intra-household dynamics remains largely unexplored. The purpose of this panel is to contribute to fill this research gap.