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Empowering Women in Ghana Can Reduce Hunger

Empowering Women in Ghana
Over the past 20 years, women in Ghana have been increasingly entering the workforce. This is good news for the country as it is trying to reach the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically goal number two of zero hunger, by the year 2030. By empowering women in Ghana, the country might turn its zero hunger goal into a reality.

Female Entrepreneurship in Ghana

Women run around 46.4% of businesses in Ghana, making Ghana one of the most ambitious countries for female entrepreneurship. However, the traditional, patriarchal roles are still prevalent, confining women to household roles like housekeeping, tending to the children, food production and more. A lot of hindrances exist within the current system that inhibits women from entering the workforce. This includes land ownership rights, necessary training, time constraints and the inability to provide collateral for initial startups. Women are also limited in their ability to undertake tasks independently from male supervision. This is because of their limited education — males usually obtain higher education than their female counterparts.

Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture

Elsevier, a Netherlands-based information and analytics company that has an emphasis on scientific, technical and medical content, conducted a primary study observing women’s empowerment through working in the pineapple sector (horticulture plantations). The data set consists of 420 married couples living on plantations in Ghana and the results concluded that statistically, females who had employment had a positive impact on the overall household. Joint horticulture household results also showed that women had more of a say when it came to household decisions.

The income that women’s plantation jobs produced gave women more leverage and lessened the pressure on their spouses to be the sole providers for the family. Export-oriented horticulture not only plays a role in empowering women in Ghana but can help pull vulnerable populations in Ghana by employing them on these cash crop pineapple plantations. Additionally, it can help boost the country’s GDP, making the internal structure strong and autonomous.

Moreover, if Ghana puts more incentives in place for female entrepreneurship, the country might be able to move toward zero hunger. If women are able to contribute financially, households will not suffer from food insufficiencies due to the generation of an additional income. This needs to occur by prioritizing equitable education for women, equal access to credit and protection of women-run small businesses. This way, women will be more inclined to join the workforce without any of the previous barriers discouraging them from doing so.

Traditional Ideas

Even after securing a job, many in Ghana still hold women to traditional roles in the home and bear the extra burden of upkeeping a happy home life. It can be difficult to serve as both an entrepreneur and housewife, therefore, spousal support is necessary to create a more balanced home life. However, traditional values still remain strongly rooted in Ghanaian culture. As a result, community cooperation programs for mothers to provide meal sharing and child care within the vicinity of each other might be of great assistance for mothers starting out at their new respective jobs.

Malnourishment and Food Insecurity in Ghana

Malnourishment is an issue that goes hand-in-hand with food insecurity in Ghana. This is especially a problem specific to the rural areas where food insecurity is disproportionately higher than in metropolitan areas. As many know, inadequate diets can lead to a slew of health complications and a higher mortality rate. Therefore, nutritional literacy is a crucial aspect for women as they are the ones typically preparing the food in Ghanaian homes. Women also have the ability to spread the word in these small villages as community is a key part of Ghanaian culture.

Encouraging Nutritional Literacy Among Lower-Income Women

There are studies on the lives of lower-income women in rural areas, but they are few in number. A well-documented and successful study in Winneba, Ghana, analyses diets among high school students. The program included food selection skills, preparation and food management. The results indicated a positive correlation between nutritional literacy programs and diet choices, however, there is a lack of data on a larger pool of women. Having data on women from different demographics, such as diverse age groups, varying socioeconomic classes and differing education levels, could give more accurate results on the viability of nutritional literacy programs.

Cross-comparative studies from abroad on low-income women indicate a high success rate of these nutritional literacy programs in Ghana. The government needs to be more proactive in its implementation of these programs in Ghana as empowering women will have an impact on entire families and villages. In order to reach Ghana’s no hunger goal, the nation should start with educating women on healthy lifestyles.

The Potential of Backyard Farming

Additionally, observations determine that backyard farming could be of great help to alleviate the disparities in food security between rural and metropolitan regions. The different climates between the north and south bring about different crucial staples for Ghanaian cuisine. The process of truck farming helps to transport food items to different regions where grocery stores, restaurants and street markets can supply different food for purchase.

Small-scale domestic backyard farming is very easy and makes healthy foods very accessible, encouraging healthy eating while alleviating rural hunger. These practices will aid women in becoming self-sufficient as well as increase food security in insecure regions, further empowering women in Ghana.

Ghana is making progressive steps in empowering women: this is especially occurring in the work sector with women owning almost half of the businesses in Ghana. This, coupled with more business incentives and nutritional literacy programs, could really help the country reach its SDG 2 of zero hunger by the year 2030. Women prove that their ambitious involvements in the workforce are beneficial, overall empowering women in Ghana by giving them autonomy and independence that they never had before. Economically, this also helps alleviate the pressure on men to stand as the sole breadwinners; rather, men and women both contribute, creating a more symbiotic relationship where both parties can financially support the family.

– Mina Kim
Photo: Flickr