Accepted Paper:

"We are business women": West African women merchants doing business in Bamako, Paris, Dubai  


Miku Ito (The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation aims to analyze the trade activities of West African women merchants. They construct their own business network and play an active role in the markets. Seeing their activities may make us reconsider the subjectivity of African women and their roles in their societies.

Paper long abstract:

There is a rich tradition of woman merchants in West Africa. This presentation aims to show and analyze several forms of commerce run mainly by West African women after the Africa's independence to present-day.

In 1970-80's Togolese women merchants called Nana Benz played an important role in the market of the wax print textile of the country. It is said that they nearly monopolized purchase and sales of the product and advanced into neighboring countries and Europe. These days quite a few Malian women in the capital Bamako frequent Dubai-Bamako to import woman's luxurious commodities like jewels, accessories, clothes and shoes. It is women merchants' "specialized field" unlike that the import of home electronics, electronic devices and furniture are managed by men merchants.

There are also Malian / Malian French women living in France who do business between their home and France. They purchase the beauty products in France and consign them to their business partners in Mali. Some import the commodities from other countries such as China, Belgium, and Spain using their familial networks.

Those economic activities indicate the tradition and transition of West African women's roles in the domestic / transnational market. Seeing their business makes us reconsider the subjectivity of African women in their societies.

Panel P067
Gendered work and gendered body in the globalizing world