Women’s Socio-Economic Roles in the Urban Sahel: A Preliminary Study of Bamako and Niamey



This study aims to fill two lacunae in the literature on development in Africa: the contribution of women in general to the development of society, and the role that women fulfill in the areas undergoing rapid urbanization, a newly emerging focus of research, because of the growing importance of these conurbations to the economies,and therefore the life, of these societies. Based on survey data from interviews conducted under the auspices of the Six Cities Project, the study compares the contribution of women in both the formal and informal economic sectors in Niamey and Bamako, the capital cities and major urban centers of Niger and Mali, respectively, focusing on the household as a unit of analysis, and especially on the "hearthhold," defined as mother-child interactions within a household. This study is a preliminary attempt to draw an ethnographic picture or overview of women's lives in these two urban centers at the aggregate level in order to create baseline understandings which can contribute to social and economic change and raise the position of women in society.

Keywords: women in development, formal and informal economic sectors, Mali, Niger, Bamako, Niamey, household, hearthhold, urban ethnography of African women

How to Cite: Sardier, M. (2003) “Women’s Socio-Economic Roles in the Urban Sahel: A Preliminary Study of Bamako and Niamey”, Journal of Political Ecology. 10(1). doi: