Prior research suggests that in times of conflict, women seek paid work for various reasons. But do these shifts last post-conflict? The authors analyze women’s labor force participation and employment trends in six conflict-affected Sub-Saharan African countries: Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and Rwanda. The report finds there are significantly higher labor force participation rates among women, both in absolute numbers and relative to men’s participation, in these conflict-affected countries compared to peer countries. However, while conflict expanded women’s economic opportunities, it did not transform or improve the quality of jobs available to them. Most women continue to work in agriculture, often lacking decent working conditions and adequate social security.
A deeper investigation of Liberia suggests that conflict-related disruptions expanded women’s economic opportunities. The predicted employment likelihood rose significantly between 1986 (three years before the conflict) and 2007 (four years after the end of the conflict) for all Liberian women, but especially among married women.