One objective of this paper is to evaluate the determinants of female non-family work in Africa. Selected labor force participation theories are tested using demographic and health survey data. The traditional kinship-oriented family organization in Africa, along with high fertility, have long been seen as factors that constrain women’s participation in the labor force, particularly in seeking formal sector employment. We use demographic and health survey data from two African countries, Ghana and Zimbabwe. Education emerges as the most important determinant of non-family work. Even if female education levels increase, single women may not gain easy entry into the informal economy managed by kinship-based social networks. A large proportion of these educated women may not find jobs if the formal economy does not expand. Results from Ghana and Zimbabwe are compared.