Date of Award

7-1-1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

William H. Boone

Second Advisor

Fatemeh Shafiei

Third Advisor

Jacqueline Howard-Matthews

Abstract

This study examined the political- economy of market women paying close attention to the impact of governmental economic policies on women’s trade. Our analysis was based on the experiences of market women in western Nigeria as a case study. The study focused particularly on the wage and salary restructuring awards awards (Udoji) of the 1970S and the Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) of the late 1980s to present. On a secondary level, the study attempted theory-building of Africana feminism using the position of market women as the focus of analysis. To achieve its primary goal, the study presented and analyzed the following: (a) the impact of presumablY gender-neutral policies on women’s trade; (b) the plight of women traders in a gender-differentiated market arena; and (c) coping mechanisms market women utilize in light of the two preceeding conditions. To fulfill the secondary objective, an examination was conducted of feminist writings theoretizing the situation of African women vis-a-vis the reality of their existence. In this case study, triangulation was used to test the validity of the data collected. Secondary data was collected as well as primary data using a questionnaire and personal interviews. In addition, a videotape recording of markets was undertaken to conoborate survey findings. From our examination of the data, both primary and secondary, we found that market women were adversely impacted by SAPs conditionalities. Three major findings resulted from this study: (1) Stagnation of trade: the combination of devaluation of the naira, lack of money in circulation, ban on imports, high maintenance fees for market space, and non-payment of workers salaries by the government, aggravate consumer buying power and result in the stagnation of trade; (2) Market overcrowding: mass retrenchment brought women and men into the market who would normally not consider trade as an occupation. This situation in turn creates a reduction in individual sales, excessive competition for customers, and market overcrowding; and (3) Political alienation of market traders by the state: The current oppressive administration, fluctuation in leadership, arbitrary enforcement of policies, and police harassment have forced market women to assume a reactionary posture whereby they ignore state policies, attempt to dialogue with government officials, or stage marches and riots in order to demonstrate their dissatisfaction. Finally, our theoretical examination revealed the need for a socio-cultural construct to be integrated into the nexus of race, class, and gender within Africana feminism in order to make it a viable framework to discuss market women as a microcosm of women in developing countries.

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