Women's Employment in Rural Senegal: What can we Learn from Non-farm Diversification Strategies?

As rural non-farm activities grow in developing countries, less attention is paid to the opportunities they may provide for women. We build on this perspective by examining the gender-differentiated impact of non-farm diversification strategies in rural Senegal. While non-farm diversification is a male-dominated livelihood strategy, rural women make the most of it, regardless of whether they diversify into low- or high-return, non-farm activities. At an individual level, diversification improves rural women’s well-being through large income-increasing effects and higher empowerment but has no effect on rural men’s well-being. At the household level, we find that, when only women diversify, households have lower per capita income but are less likely to be food-insecure than when only men or both genders diversify. Our findings indicate that policies that promote non-farm diversification strategies in rural Senegal can translate into better livelihood outcomes for rural women and their households.