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. Through 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 it 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, etc. 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 inability to provide collateral for initial start-ups. Women are also limited in their ability to do things independently from male supervision. This is because of their limited education, with males usually obtaining 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 earned them gave them more leverage, as well as lessened the pressure their spouse had to be the sole provider 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 put more incentives in place for female entrepreneurship, the country might be able to ensure zero hunger. If women are able to contribute financially, households will not be suffering from food insufficiencies due to the generation of an additional income, overall helping more families. This needs to occur by prioritizing equitable education for women, equal access to credit and protection of women-run small businesses. This way, more women will have the encouragement to join the workforce without any of the previous barriers discouraging them from doing so.

Traditional Ideas

Even after getting a job, many in Ghana still hold women to traditional roles in the home and bearing the extra burden of upkeeping a happy home life. This can be very difficult as both an entrepreneur and housewife, however, hopefully, their partners can be more understanding, creating a more balanced home life. However, traditional values still remain strongly-rooted in Ghanian 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, bad dieting can lead to a slew of health complications and a higher mortality rate. Therefore, diet literacy is a crucial aspect for women who are the ones typically preparing the food in Ghana. Women also have the ability to spread the word in these small villages as community is a key part of Ghanian culture.

Encouraging Diet Literacy Among Lower-Income Women

Studies have occurred regarding lower-income women in rural areas, but they are few in numbers. A well-documented and successful study occurred in Winneba, Ghana on high school students. The program included food selecting skills, preparation and food management. The results indicated a positive correlation between diet literacy programs and diet behavior, however, there is a lack of data on a larger pool of women. Having data on women from different demographics like diverse age groups, socio-economic class and education could give more accurate results on the viability of diet literacy programs.

Cross-comparative studies from abroad on low-income women indicate a high success rate of these diet 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, it should start with educating women on healthy behavioral practices.

The Potential of Backyard Farming

Additionally, observations have determined 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 Ghanian 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 diet literacy programs could really help the country reach its SDG goal number two of zero hunger by the year 2030. Women have proven (through various case studies as this article identifies above) that their ambitious involvements in the workforce have proven to be helpful, overall empowering women in Ghana by giving them autonomy and independence that they have never seen before. Economically, it helps alleviate the pressure on men to be the sole breadwinner; rather, men and women disperse the roles between them creating a more symbiotic relationship where both parties can financially contribute to the family.

– Mina Kim
Photo: Flickr