Heading Households and Heading Businesses: Rural Kenyan Women in the Informal Sector

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The dynamics of intra-household economics among sedentary farmers in rural Kenya suggest that women, whether or not they have a male household head, are responsible for providing basic resources to insure the daily survival of household members. Many rural Kenyan women operate small businesses in rural market centers in order to meet these obligations, and many of these women are also heads of their households. This paper examines women's resource bases for establishing and maintaining small-scale businesses. Compared to women who are associated with male-headed households, women who head households have fewer resources for establishing businesses which in turn generate lower earnings. At the same time, these women are almost completely dependent on their businesses for meeting the household's needs.

Keywords: Kenya; Women-headed households; informal sector; intra-household economics; small-scale businesses

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0033-0124.00114

Affiliations: Utah State University

Publication date: May 1, 1998

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