E-mail: sigrun.helmfrid@socant.su.se

Sigrun Helmfrid's areas of expertise are West Africa and Burkina Faso in particular, women’s situation from a gender perspective, rural livelihoods and family- and kinship structures. Her first experience from Burkina Faso was in the late 80ties, when she was working with the dissemination of improved cooking stoves. In total she has lived 5-6 years in the country.

During the years Sigrun Helmfrid has been engaged for both short- and long-term contracts in the field of international development cooperation. In 2009-20010 she was the coordinator of Sida’s Gender Helpdesk at Stockholm University. She has also taught anthropology at Dalarna University (2009-2010).


Social change, economic strategies and the gender order: a cotton farming village in Burkina Faso
This study from Western Burkina Faso, explores women’s economic strategies within and beyond the household, in the context of commercial smallholder cotton farming. The challenges that these women deal with fall into two broad categories: those that relate to how incomes from the common farm are distributed, and those that relate to how women manage their individual economies within the household economic system. Helmfrid investigates how women go about in their daily struggle to both fulfill obligations towards family and kin and satisfy own needs and wishes. She also describes how increasing economic stratification between farming units impact on individual women’s scope and alternatives for action. Based on a detailed exploration of a few farming units’ organization of production, consumption and distribution, Helmfrid developes a critical argument with economic theories of the household. Fieldwork was undertaken in 1995-96 and during three months in 1998. Thesis is in process.

Selected publications


  • Thirsty men and thrifty women - gender, power and agency in the rural beer trade (Burkina Faso), Eds. S. Van Volputte and M. Fumanti In: “Beer as a Local and Transnational Commodity in Africa”. Berlin: Lit Verlag.



  • Book review of: Mahir Saul and Patrick Royer "West African Challenge to Empire:Culture and History in the Volta-Bani Anticolonial War" in Ethnos 68:1 2003, p. 144-145.