Analysing how women traders’ networks function


Women traders are important actors in border markets and play a significant role in forging ties beyond borders. Their networks vary in size from local to regional and international. But, are women traders’ networks different from other traders’ networks in any way? How do they function and adapt to economic, security and climate risks?


The programme aims to understand the role of women in border markets and regional integration. The functional and institutional dynamics of women’s networks will be cross-analysed to identify policy frameworks that are better suited to structural constraints and opportunities for women’s economic activities. The analysis of these networks will also help to assess their functioning, specificities and resilience strategies for adapting to risks, more specifically with regards to women. This reflection builds on the Secretariat’s work on social network analysis (SNA) carried out in 2015-16, and will take place at the local and regional levels.


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 The first local study will focus on functional networks of women traders, notably in the agricultural and food sectors. It aims to show how value chains are structured - linking producers, intermediaries and consumers - to map these networks and to highlight gender inequalities and the roles of women within these value chains. The work will be based in the border areas of Dendi, between Niger, Nigeria and Benin. The regional study will focus on institutional networks (organisations and development partners) linked to the promotion of women’s economic activities. This approach will increase our understanding of the complex institutional landscape linked to the economic advancement of women and will identify gaps between the functioning of women’s networks and associated strategies.



By considering the ties that bind social actors as its primary unit of analysis, SNA can highlight structural constraints and opportunities between men and women, between beneficiaries of food programmes and traders, and between organisations involved in development policies.





These activities will be shared with the three regional organisations who are Club members (ECOWAS, UEMOA, CILSS), other SWAC members, the African Union and the NEPAD agency. Wageningen University (Netherlands) will provide software programming support for calculating the accessibility of cities. The Geography Department at the University of Niamey and the Sahel Research Group at the University of Florida and its West African networks will play a role in the surveys and discussions with local actors - women traders, most notably - and in analysing the results. Partnerships with other international organisations, academics and development partners are envisaged. 


Memorandum of understanding

SWAC/OECD signed a memorandum of understanding with the Sahel Research Group (SRG) University of Florida in Paris on 22 March 2017, aiming to reinforce the links between academics, institutions and policy platforms. The  2017-18 activities are dedicated to cities, borders and security. The purpose of this work is to provide support for regional policies and international strategies in order to better anticipate the two major on-going transformations in the region: urbanisation and climate change. Approximately 10 papers in the OECD West African Papers series will be published to promote on going research. The SRG is a collaborative effort to understand the political, social, economic and cultural dynamics of the countries of the West African Sahel. The focus is primarily on the six Francophone countries of the region—Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. SRG is also interested in developments in neighbouring countries, to the north and south, whose dynamics frequently intersect with those of the Sahel. This research platform brings together faculty and graduate students from various disciplinary and cultural backgrounds, notably from West Africa.  


Contacts: Professor Leonardo A. Villalón ( and Visiting Associate Professor Olivier J. Walther, Co-Principal Investigators (


This work contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality:




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