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Competing priorities: Women’s microenterprises and household relationships

Friedson-Ridenour, Sophia and Rachael S. Pierotti

World Development, 2019, vol. 121, issue C, 53-62

Abstract: Recent studies have suggested that women’s business decisions are influenced by members of their household, especially their spouse, and that these intrahousehold dynamics contribute to gender gaps in entrepreneurship outcomes. This in-depth qualitative study among microentrepreneurs in urban Ghana sought to understand the connections between women’s businesses and their households’ management of economic resources. The findings show that women’s business decisions are influenced by: 1) a desire to reinforce their partner’s responsibilities as a primary provider; 2) attempts to fulfil normative expectations of meeting the daily basic-needs of the family; and 3) a need to prepare for long-term security. To reinforce their husband’s responsibilities as a provider, women hid income and savings, and sometimes explicitly limited business growth. To ensure their ability to smooth household consumption and respond to emergencies, women prioritized savings over business investment. And, to plan for their long-term security, women opted for cautious business investment, instead maintaining pressure on their partner to meet current needs and investing in children and property for the future. Previous studies document gender differences in microenterprise business management. This research builds on those studies by examining how intrahousehold inequalities affect women’s business decisions. The findings demonstrate the contextual importance of social relations for understanding women’s business decisions. More broadly, the findings illustrate that interpersonal interactions concerning the management of economic resources are an integral part of how household members negotiate their rights and responsibilities in relation to each other.

Keywords: Gender; Ghana; Intrahousehold dynamics; Microenterprises; Savings; sub-Saharan Africa (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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