Women of Ghana

By: Ellie Erickson, Paige Flagge, Susannah Pazdan

Throughout history, women in Ghana have maintained traditional roles in education, workplace and their household. In each, women are expected to fulfill their traditional roles to their best ability. Women’s roles in education, the workplace, and at home have expanded in both rural and urban areas, but gender inequality remains a prominent issue.  In the article, “Gender Inequalities in rural employment in Ghana: An Overview” by the Gender, Equity, and Rural Employment Division of FAO they provide statistics on gender inequalities in education, the workplace, and at home.

Gender disparities in education of women can be found in literacy rates. For example, only 29% percent of Ghanaian women are literate compared to 52% percent of Ghanaian men.  The workplace is also a place that exhibits inequalities, especially in the field of agriculture which is one of the biggest areas of employment in Ghana. Ghanaian women in the household are also expected to fulfil certain roles, they typically serve as the leaders of the home.

Ghanaian Women in Education 

Winnie is from the Tema and attended primary, secondary, and is currently in tertiary school at University of Cape Coast.
She now has a great job working as a program officer for the Aya Center.
Picture By: Susannah Pazdan

Literacy is not the only issue women in Ghana face concerning education, they also have a lower percentage of women who get a primary education.  The percentage of men who get a primary education in Ghana is 71% compared to 52% of women (Gender Inequalities.)  This statistic is a vivid example of how the education gap between both men and women is still very relevant.  Since there is such a prominent gap in the education of women whether in literacy or receiving a primary education, women are limited in how they can succeed.  Another example of how education plays a role in how Ghanaian women succeed is their access to secondary and vocational education. Access to both upper level courses remains low with 3% of women attending secondary school and only 27% of women attending vocational school (Gender Inequalities).  Although more women are pushing educational reform to be able to succeed against their male counterparts.

Ghanaian Women in the Workplace

This woman works in the agriculture industry harvesting plantains as well as “maize” or corn. She also harvests these crops with her baby on her back.
Picture By: Susannah Pazdan

Agriculture is the backbone of Ghana’s economy, playing an important role in ensuring food security and socio-economic development (Gender Inequalities). Ghana is a huge producer of fruits, produce, and wheat. Agriculture is made up of several different sectors including farming and market-oriented activities. Women in Ghanaian agricultural production is significant with 50% of women and 30% of female-headed households are employed in the agricultural sector (Gender Inequalities). Although in comparison to men, most women do not have the resources to expand their agriculture and produce a higher crop yield. Women have less access to technology, and they rely on rain-fed intercropping. Ghanaian women own less livestock, use less fertilizers, and own less mechanical equipment than men (Gender Inequalities.) In general, female farmer’s production is comprised of less crops than male farmers. Therefore, with less crops and little access to public credit, females have less of a chance to fund their farming. Each one of these are disadvantages to women working in agriculture and therefore sets them back from reaching their potential. Yet, even if women could produce more food than men, the food they produce can be limited. Along the road women sell their produce and food and more often the men will sell apples, grapes, gum, and electronics. Women will sell local produce, including oranges, peanuts and plantain chips. This is a global issue because international companies will contact men when they want to sell their products to be sold as they think the products will “sell better.” Women are automatically put at a disadvantage when they want to sell market items. Although this is a global issue, this still significantly impacts the women of Ghana in the agriculture workplace.

Ghanaian Women in the Household

Joyce works as a seamstress but also works as a housekeeper for her aunt and uncle. Some of her main jobs includes cooking, cleaning, and helping her aunt and uncle with whatever they need done in the house.
Picture By: Susannah Pazdan

In comparison to inequalities for women in the workforce and education, there is a wide gender gap in the time allotted to domestic activities. On average, 65 percent of men spend 0 to 10 hours per week on domestic activities, 89 percent of women spend 10 hours per week or more (Gender Inequalities). Even if some women have a job, they will still spend more time on domestic activities. The most time-consuming activities for women are cooking and taking care of household members: 11 to 10 weekly hours on average (Gender Inequalities). Women have several different roles within their households. In some regions in Ghana, there are a significant number of female-headed households in both rural and urban areas. There is a higher share of FHHs in urban areas, where they constitute 29 percent of households, compared to 20 percent in rural areas (Gender Inequalities). With so much pressure on women, this can create issues within the household such as child labor and stress for women. High dependency rates hamper household capacity to allocate labor to on-farm activities or other ingenerating activities (Gender Inequalities). As heads of the household, working and being a mother, Ghana women are strong.

Ghanaian Women

Looking at different regions in Ghana and faces of women, there remains this traditional stereotype. In the village of Krofu, Esi Atta, an old woman believed to be the age of 80 or older, truly believes in the value of women. In her eyes, women are supposed to care for their families and play the traditional role of a mother, but to Atta this role is most important and especially most valued. Like Atta, Joyce Ottu the housekeeper of a homestay family as well as a seamstress, believes women are strong and what they do makes them even stronger. She too believes in the traditional role of women, but in part that all women no matter what their job is have an important job in society. Eva Boadu and Winnie Sey’Adjei are employers at the Aya Center. Eva is a young, independent, strong woman. She believes in education for woman and does not let stereotype bring her down. Like Eva, Winnifred is a strong, beautiful wife and mother to her one year old son. Winnie believes in the power of women, but as a Christian she also believes in having men as the head of the household. Winnie will always make sure she her son and husband are taken care of because as a wife and a mother that is her role. These three women deal with the triple burden of life, but they are powerful and can overcome them through education and the workplace. Despite stereotypes, women of Ghana defeat them. Without powerful, strong women in society, many roles in society could not exist. Women are full of knowledge and power.  Each of these women are unique, special and beautiful in their own way; they are the women of Ghana.

Here is our group video:

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