chapter  13

Woman and Poverty: The Future of Female Informal-Sector Employment

ByCatherine Coquery-Vidrovitch

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. The lack of regular jobs in industry and in the service sector, accentuated by the economic crisis and uncontrolled population growth and causes a considerable increase in informal-sector work in cities like those cited. Women seem to be going about their modest trading activities in front of their own homes, in tiny neighborhood squares, or in the marketplace and to be working to satisfy their need for pocket money, amusements for their children, clothing. Socially marginal in the extreme, in the cities in disproportionate numbers in relation to their work, increasing numbers of women are excluded from any regular work. Gradually, all that is left to them is prostitution, actually a disguised form of begging.