African Women: A Modern History

By Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch; Beth Gillian Raps | Go to book overview

13
Women and Poverty: The Future of Female Informal-Sector Employment

Since independence and especially with the cycle of droughts that began in 1973, there has been an increasing flow of poverty-stricken young women from places such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Zaire to big cities such as Nairobi, Kampala, and Kinshasa. This is human evidence of the terrible condition of the countryside. Far from having been rejected by their families, these young immigrants have instead been sent by their families to the city for several years to earn the meager funds they need to revitalize their dying villages. More and more it is question of keeping the family group alive, in the city and the country.

Today more than ever, city life is in women's hands. The lack of regular jobs in industry and in the service sector, accentuated by the economic crisis and uncontrolled population growth, causes a considerable increase in informal-sector work in cities like those cited, where almost 70 percent of inhabitants are under twenty-five. What in the early days of independence was merely supplemental support has become households' very livelihoods. Men's salaries are now utterly insufficient, and the number of unemployed young people continues to increase.


Female Poverty

Socially marginal in the extreme, in the cities in disproportionate numbers in relation to their work, increasing numbers of women--widows, unmarried

-136-

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