African Women’s Formal and Informal Labor

A Comparative History
  • Lyn OssomeEmail author
Living reference work entry


This chapter examines the history of women’s labor in Africa, highlighting through a social reproduction framework the continuities between hierarchies of gendered labor invented or deepened by colonial logics of accumulation and rule and the contemporary feminization and exploitation of women’s productive and reproductive labor under the tutelage of neoliberal capitalism. The political economy of the survival of the surplus labor being expended en masse under neoliberal capitalism means that the work of reproducing families and households now depends mainly on women’s unwaged, unrecognized, casualized, and precarized work. The chapter shows this state of affairs as constituting relations of deep inequality and exploitation and as posing new contradictions and urgent questions for feminist liberation struggles.


Labor Feminist Women Exploitation Africa Social reproduction History 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Makerere Institute of Social ResearchKampalaUganda

Section editors and affiliations

  • Agnes Atia Apusigah
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Development Education Studies, Faculty of EducationUniversity for Development StudiesTamaleGhana

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