Despite great progress in economic growth and poverty reduction, the gender wage gap in Ghana shows the distribution of these benefits remains unequal. A huge portion of Ghana’s labor market is in the low-paying informal sector, where the most vulnerable people — women and children — find themselves. In fact, women make less than 30% of what men make — one of just two countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region to experience gaps at that extreme. The wage gap is largely a result of systemic barriers in terms of access to health care and education, as well as social norms regarding women’s roles in the workforce and household.
About the Wage Gap in Ghana
More than 23% of the Ghanaian population lives below the poverty line, according to the U.N. Women Data Hub. Most schools lack proper facilities and information on menstrual hygiene for their female students, ultimately contributing to frequent absences and dropouts.
In lower-income households, where financial constraints are prevalent, women often sacrifice their education so they can seek work to support their families. Women and girls spend 14% of their time on unpaid care and domestic work. Due to traditional social norms, some girls in Ghana’s rural areas find themselves in marriage or unions from as young as 18 — which typically prevents them from pursuing an education or better-paying jobs. In light of this, here are five initiatives reducing the gender wage gap in Ghana.
The Soronko Academy
The Soronko Academy is an information and communications technology development center in Ghana. Its main focus is equipping women and girls with the technical and soft skills needed to attain better-paying jobs. Women and girls in underprivileged communities learn new modern skills such as branding, graphic design, coding, digital marketing and app development.
The Soronko Academy also helps young entrepreneurs build a technical edge around their website development and social media management. Classes and programs start from as early as 5 years old, even working with schools to integrate coding into their curriculum. Founded in 2017, the Soronko Academy has trained more than 20,000 women in a dozen or so regions across Ghana.
Solidaridad is a global organization working directly with communities to create fair and sustainable supply chains. In Ghana, small-scale mining employs roughly a million people, with nearly half the workers women engaging in informal mining.
With pollution and other unsafe working conditions, Solidaridad’s project aims to improve the financial and social position of women in Ghana’s small gold mining communities. It supports 130 women by introducing village savings and loan associations, external funding for business support while also hosting discussions with women and men on household and business roles for women.
The banking associations receive funding from Solidaridad’s project partner Kering — the owner of fashion brands such as Gucci & Balenciaga — and serve as a means to boost local entrepreneurial endeavors, reducing their reliance on bank loans. This project also offers training on responsible mining and leadership skills.
Global Partnership for Education
The Global Partnership for Education is a global fund dedicated to improving education in developing nations. Together since 2004, the partnership has more recently provided the Ghanaian government $1.5 million in grant support for its COVID-19 learning response.
Its active presence in Ghana is an attempt to prevent already-present gender inequalities from continuing into the next generation. It tackles gender barriers in several ways: supporting public awareness campaigns, building schools near communities and also providing for proper menstrual hygiene management.
The partnership also works with the Ghanaian government to identify and address gender barriers in the education system. In fact, its educational programs have boasted considerable success when it comes to the number of young girls completing primary school — now at nearly 95%.
UN Women in Ghana
U.N. Women in Ghana works with the government and its various departments — like the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection — to make gender concerns such as the wage gap part of the national development process.
The organization also works with non-governmental organizations and other private sector groups to promote gender equality and responsive issues. To execute this, U.N. Women has numerous active programs, including one addressing the link between HIV and the financial effects it has on women and girls — like the cost of treatment — oftentimes after divorce. Women end up without any assets to support themselves and pay for treatment.
The organization also aims to install property and inheritance rights, offering women some form of protection. Another works on economically empowering women by introducing small-scale farmers to good agricultural practices in hopes of reducing post-harvest losses. Additionally, the group works in the north and north of the Nkwanta district to enhance the leadership skills of adolescent girls.
Alliance for African Women Initiative
Founded in 2006, the Alliance for African Women Initiative is a grassroots organization fighting to reduce the gender gap by empowering women and children in Ghana. Its livelihood project seeks to enhance the financial independence of women in hopes it can help families rise above the poverty line. The initiative also provides workshops and training programs intended to help women with all things business and personal finance, teaching bookkeeping and business skills as well as commercial consultancy and management. The initiative provides opportunities for women to connect and share ideas within its network.
Traditionally, the livelihood project creates its own small savings accounts since some women cannot afford to open one in a bank themselves. Then, after the training and workshops, women receive small loans to either expand their business or invest in new ones. More than 2,100 women have attended these programs, and another 150 or so have received loans to start up their own businesses.
These five initiatives are attempting to take the steps needed to build an equal system for men and women. They are also showing the many intricacies of solving an issue — such as the gender wage gap — and that the solution is much more than just providing employment opportunities.
– Owen R. Mutiganda