chapter  12
7 Pages

Women and Factory Work

ByCatherine Coquery-Vidrovitch

The African mind-set hardly allowed women the freedom of movement needed for work in a factory. Women's entry into the industrial sector gave them a freedom of movement up until then unknown. In tropical and South Africa, a female proletariat arose in the 1960s but on a large scale only with independence. In western Africa, where women have always been a part of working life, the relative absence of female factory workers is even more surprising. A very few women came from the informal sector, no doubt because they were unmarried and it is generally the husband who provides the small amount of capital used to start a small business. The Tanzanian law of 1975, designed to protect women by guaranteeing them paid maternity leave of twelve weeks every three years, has sometimes perversely had the opposite effect, with companies putting an immediate stop to female hiring.