Select Page

Early labour market transitions of women in low income African countries



Working across six Sub-Saharan African countries, the project explores how the unequal treatment or perception of women resulting from deep-rooted social norms affects their economic empowerment and experience of work. Looking at young women’s passage from school to work or motherhood, the project investigates the causes and key factors that shape women’s path to adult life.

In several developing countries, the shape of many women’s lives is already significantly determined before the age of twenty. There is a strong commitment among many governments to address both youth unemployment and gender inequality in education. International attention is also being increasingly paid to the situation of adolescent girls in poor countries (UN, World Bank, DFID) but the issue lacks sufficient research evidence on what underlies the challenges they face.

Focusing on the transition between school and work, AWIA aspires to add substantially to the existing evidence, helping to inform and further increase interest in implementing change.  This is based on a broadly comparable programme of work in each of six sub-Saharan African Countries: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as some explicitly comparable cross country work.

Principal Investigators

Professor Andy McKay, University of Sussex

Professor Andy McKay, University of Sussex

Principal Investigator and UK Country lead

View Professor Andy McKay’s academic profile
Professor Jane Kabubo-Mariara, University of Nairobi and PEP

Professor Jane Kabubo-Mariara, University of Nairobi and PEP

Principal Investigator and Kenya country lead

View Professor Jane Kabubo-Mariara’s academic profile


This project is undertaken as part of the IDRC Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women Programme  which is funded by IDRC, DFID and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

A summary of our project is available on the IDRC website.

Country Partners

Burkina Faso: Universite de Ouagadougou

Visit the Universite de Ouagadougou website

Country coordinator: Dr Claude Wetta

Other researchers:

Francis Medard Zida

Dr Ludovic Kibora

Ghana: University of Ghana

Visit the University of Ghana website

Country coordinator: Dr Louis Boakye-Yiadom

Other researchers:

Dr Nkechi Owooo

Dr Ernestina Dankyi

Dr. Monica Lambon-Quayefio

Kwame Adjei-Mantey

Dr Louis Boakye-Yiadom

Dr Nkechi Owooo

England: University of Sussex, UK

Visit the University of Sussex website

Team leader: Professor Andy McKay

Other researchers:

Professor Andy Newell

Dr Cinzia Rienzo

Uganda: Economic Policy Research Centre, Kampala

Visit the Economic Policy Research Centre website

Country coordinator: Dr Sarah Ssewanyana

Other researchers:

Dr Ibrahim Kasirye

Gemma Ahaibwe

Emmanuel Mugole

Kenya: University of Nairobi

Visit the University of Nairobi website

Country coordinator: Professor Jane Kabubo-Mariara

Other researchers:

Dr Anthony Wambugu

Dr Phyllis Nachio

Mark Mwiti

Tanzania: Institute for Rural Development and Planning, Dodoma, Tanzania

Visit the Institute for Rural Development and Planning website

Country coordinator: Dr Adalbertus Kamanzi

Other researchers:

Professor Andy McKay

Dr Cinzia Rienzo

Ethiopia: Ethiopian Economic Association

Visit the Ethiopian Economic Association website

Country coordinator: Dr Abbi Mamo Kedir

Other researchers:

Seid Nuri Ali

Dr Assefa Admassie


Our project comprises six country projects, led by researchers from the countries in question, and one comparative cross country project.  Each of these follows a broadly similar strategy.  The research comprises both quantitative and qualitative components.  The quantitative work is based on analysis of pre-existing data sources for each country, but which have mostly not been used to analyse the issues covered in this project.  Data sources include multipurpose household surveys, censuses, Demographic and Health Surveys and panel data sets where available.  The qualitative work is based on field work conducted specifically for this project, comprising community profiles, focus groups and key informant interviews focusing on young women and men and on some others able to influence the options open to them.

In each country and in the cross country project the following studies have been or are being undertaken: a descriptive study, at least one in-depth analytic study and a report on the qualitative studies. This then forms the basis for research or policy briefs.  In this work we seek to combine insights from quantitative and qualitative sources.

Although the focus is on female experience, a comparative analysis with males in similar situations – to investigate the gender contrast – is also being conducted, as well as a comparison with those from wealthier and poorer groups, and urban and rural areas.

In each country and internationally we have engaged with policy makers from the beginning, to inform the design and progress of the research and to communicate initial results; we will hold country level and international dissemination events towards the end of the project.