WINTER PARK, Florida — Ghanaian women in agriculture are gaining influence and equitable treatment in increasing ways. Women contribute to around 70% of the country’s agricultural production, marketing and processing, yet they face several challenges. These challenges involve lack of ownership and limited access to productive and arable land, low literacy rates, lack of access to information, low participation in agricultural governance, poverty and insufficient access to credit facilities. Organizations like ActionAid Ghana aim to address the challenges that Ghanaian women in agriculture face.
Ghanaian Women in Agriculture
The gender gap in the agricultural industry globally is severe. Despite women comprising almost half of the agricultural force in developing countries, women-run farms produce 20-30% fewer yields than male-run farms. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) maintains that this disparity is directly linked to gender-specific challenges.
These barriers include lack of access and rights to land, insufficient agricultural training, inadequate working conditions, ingrained gender roles and economic bias, among others. With these challenges, women are unable to reach their highest economic potential.
In Ghana specifically, agricultural gender inequalities exist in land possession, access to seedlings, modern inputs, training and education, financial and extension services, livestock and more. These discrepancies hinder the productivity and earnings of Ghanaian women in agriculture.
Lydia Sasu, a Ghanaian female farmworker, reveals the reality for women in agriculture in Ghana. She testifies that women cultivate most of the country’s crops, even those owned by men, yet do not benefit from the latest agricultural technologies available. She says, “We don’t need handouts from wealthy countries. We just need the same opportunities to succeed.”
Closing Ghana’s Agricultural Gender Gap
To increase the development and prosperity of Ghanaian women in agriculture, ActionAid Ghana has implemented multiple projects with tangible impacts:
- Women in Agriculture Platforms in the NGGA project
- Women’s Rights to Sustainable Livelihoods project
- Female Extension Volunteers project
The Northern Ghana Governance Activity (NGGA) Project
The NGGA project seeks to raise women’s access to agricultural opportunities and knowledge, participation in local government activities and more. Women in Agriculture Platforms are part of this. They are widespread, existing at district, regional and zonal levels in 28 districts and three northern regions.
The platforms’ overarching aim and impact are to expand the confidence and assertiveness of women so that they can demand accountability from those responsible to strengthen governance for improved agricultural development in Ghana.
Learning objectives of the platforms include enhancing effective self-advocacy techniques and increasing financial management knowledge to promote more financial sustainability and independence. Additionally, the goals involve building capacity for gender auditing and budget tracking to ensure more equitable treatment in agricultural spaces and implementing organizational leadership skills. These strategies contribute to the empowerment of Ghanaian women in agriculture, giving them further ways to call for and achieve fair treatment.
The Women’s Rights to Sustainable Livelihoods Project
The Women’s Rights to Sustainable Livelihoods project from ActionAid International occurred in Ghana and Rwanda between 2012 and 2015. Its goal was to increase women’s skills and knowledge of sustainable climate-resilient farming and fight to decrease women’s unpaid work.
Through the initiative, ActionAid Ghana supported 3,000 smallholder women farmers to boost their possibility for productive and large-scale farming endeavors. These women now demand more engagement from stakeholders to make their farm work more profitable.
ActionAid Ghana also implemented a Female Extension Volunteers project to support the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and execute extension services. These services involve farmworker networks communicating over the radio to women in agriculture in remote areas. Communications include key methods and information to increase productivity, like composting instead of buying fertilizer to promote fertile soil.
Women’s Empowerment for Poverty Reduction
The benefits of such women-focused programs reach further than just higher earnings. The FAO asserts that higher earnings for women farmers result in more financial resources available for healthcare, education and nutrition for the women themselves and their families. Additionally, more opportunities for Ghanaian women in agriculture means more food production, likely decreasing food insecurity. Overall, initiatives such as those run by ActionAid Ghana reduce poverty in the region.
– Claire Kirchner