Journal Article

West African Market Women Negotiating Productive and Reproductive Roles Through Time

Published on 1 January 2017

Contemporary agricultural policy in West Africa encourages commercialisation of agriculture. West African women, noted for their prominence in agricultural marketing, have responded throughout history to such changes.

This article examines how they have done this through three case studies: of Igbo farmer-marketers, Fulani milk traders, and secluded Hausa food sellers. The case studies demonstrate that women’s productive marketing activity helps them fulfil, and is assisted by, their reproductive responsibilities, which are defined in relation to their households. It concludes that women’s ability to manipulate and control their own reproductive and productive labour, and that of children, is critical to their maintenance of a market niche. Introductions of technology, and of varying ideas about the role of women in farms and markets, have also influenced the market positions they have held at various moments in time. The way in which women continue to negotiate labour relations will shape the way contemporary introductions of technology and gender ideology influence their enduring market position.

Cite this publication

Bellwood-Howard, I. (2017) 'West African market women negotiating productive and reproductive roles through time', Agriculture for Development, 32.6:39-43

Citation copied


Imogen Bellwood-Howard

Research Fellow

Publication details

published by
Tropical Agricultural Association
Bellwood-Howard, Imogen


About this publication


Related content