From School to Work in Six African Countries: How are Women Faring?

Female labour force participation in sub-Saharan Africa is higher than in many other areas of the developing world, but fewer young women work in formal waged jobs. Female educational attainment levels are also lower than in other regions, while fertility rates are higher, with women typically having children at younger ages. Young African women commonly balance work and family responsibilities by working more in household activities or engaging in agriculture, or in casual wage work. By leaving school early and having children in their teens, young women have fewer livelihood options and face diminished horizons. Interventions that can reach them early in life to help them stay longer in school can have a greater impact on the skills they learn, their future careers, and the contributions they make to their societies. To shed light on the factors that may be encouraging or deterring young women from achieving higher education and better employment outcomes, researchers examined evidence on school-to-work transitions in six African countries: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Using comparable survey data from each country, the research examined the education and employment outcomes for young women and men, along with a range of related household and individual characteristics, and how these have changed over time.