Call for Paper: West African Women as Workers in a Changing World

A call for a special issue: West African Women as Workers in a Changing World. The issue will be guest edited by Dr. Akosua Keseboa Darkwah.

Deadline for Abstract: April 30, 2011.
Deadline for Paper: July 30, 2011
Submit your abstract and paper directly to Dr. Akosua Keseboa Darkwah.

West African Women as Workers in a Changing World

West African women have long been noted as active participants in the economic spheres of their respective countries. From Senegal through Ghana to Nigeria, written records, mostly travelogues by Western travelers written in the early nineteenth century, make it quite clear that women traded in a variety of items. Survey material from the early twentieth century such as the work of Baumann (1928) also highlights the fact that farming in Africa in general was as much a woman's as a man's activity. Other writers such as La Ray Denzer (2005) describe how West African women parlayed skills and connections built in their careers as teachers and nurses to enter into politics in colonial West Africa.

Whether as workers in the informal sector or in traditional female occupations in the formal sector, there is a fairly large set of literature on West African women as workers in the eighteenth- through the late twentieth-century. What is largely missing from this literature, however, is a much more dynamic look at West African women as workers in a changing West Africa. West Africa has changed dramatically in the last thirty years as the region has entered the global economy more fully with the adoption of structural adjustment programs and democratization has become more widely accepted. These changes have both opened up newer spaces for women to engage economic processes as well as constrained women's income opportunities in a number of ways. Additionally, women's levels of education have improved, albeit slowly, thus making it possible for more women to enter the formal sector of the West African economy.

This special issue of West African Review is devoted to the analysis of the ways in which West African women's lives as workers has been transformed in the last three decades. We are particularly interested in articles that look at either transformations in conventionally conceived quintessential female activities such as trading/farming, or new occupations of women in both the formal and informal sectors such as female army officers or street girls. Preference is for primary research that draws on qualitative methods to give us insight into various aspects of West African women's lives as workers in the 21st century.

The closing date for abstracts is April 30th, 2011 and full papers is July 30th 2011. Direct all enquiries and submissions to:

Akosua Keseboa Darkwah, PhD
Department of Sociology,
University of Ghana, Legon


Baumann, Hermann. 1928. "The Division of Work According to Sex in African Hoe Culture". Africa 1 (3): 290-319.

Denzer, LaRay. 2005. Gender and Decolonlisation: A Study of Three Women in West African Public Life. Readings in Gender in Africa, edited by Andrea Cornwall. Indiana: Indiana University Press. Pp. 217-224.