Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. William Garland

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Jack Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Arthur Helweg

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Social scientists have documented the effects of colonialism and independence in West Africa, but have focused on male roles in economic institutions. Recent research reveals not only the importance of women as agricultural producers but also the marginalization of women in contemporary national society. Development projects have not eased economic hardship, rather emphasis on industrialization has led to agricultural underdevelopment, borne more heavily by women and children than by men.

This paper looks at the micro-level issues of the division of labor, the structure of the household, the status of women, and issues concerning fertility and reproduction. In doing so, it follows new recommendations calling for the disaggregation of the farming decision-making unit in order to analyze roles, expectations, and opportunities available to women and men. In the (new) tradition of "bottom-up" research and development, strategies to understand women's roles more clearly and to help meet their needs have emerged.