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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Women and the economy in selected countries in southern Africa: a reflection
Author:Moyo, Theresa
Periodical:Afrika Zamani: revue annuelle d'histoire africaine = Annual Journal of African History (ISSN 0850-3079)
Geographic term:Southern Africa
Subjects:gender division of labour
gender inequality
economic history
Abstract:Women have played an important role in the growth and development of the economies of southern Africa although this has not been fully recognized. This article is a reflection on that role. Five countries, namely Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, have been selected because of some shared characteristics, for example, their similar historical experience as reflected in the transition of their economies from precolonial to colonial, independence and postindependence. The status of women has also evolved across the different historical epochs. The article argues that during the precolonial era, while women were disadvantaged by the unequal gender relations, they still had a significant degree of autonomy and access to productive resources. However, the onset of colonization, in particular the migrant labour system and Western-based values concerning the division of labour between women and men, eroded the power and autonomy which women had enjoyed in the precolonial era. The liberation struggles in the region also had a significant impact on the role of women to their economies. The article argues that, due to patriarchal, social and cultural norms and traditions, women were disadvantaged with regard to access to and control of economic resources such as land and capital. Although independence ushered in some positive developments in terms of legal and policy reforms towards gender equality and improvement in women's participation in the economy, the reality shows that the participation of women in the mainstream and formal economy is still limited. The article proposes a number of strategies and policies to enhance the contribution of women to the economies of the selected countries. Bibliogr., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]