Worldwide, the number of women and men is roughly the same (3.82 billion women / 3.89 billion men). However, it is well known that this does not translate into gender equality. This also applies to Ghana. Here women are still disadvantaged and discriminated against, regardless of their social class.
However, women in Ghana are beginning to live more self-determined lives, to liberate themselves from their imposed dependence on their husbands and to take the lead. “Women are changing history right now,” says Sandra Ahiataku proudly. She studied computer science against the will of her parents, manages a IT start-up and also teaches at Kumasi Hive, an innovative institution in Kumasi, Ghana. There, she educates girls and women in IT and technology.
Every sector of the Ghanaian economy is undergoing a change of mind, followed by a sense of optimism: women want to take decisions for themselves. In fact, they do.
Ghanaian women between everyday life and a new spirit of optimism
This noticeable spirit of optimism is an important driving force for many economic sectors, including agriculture, one of the main pillars for the development of the West African country. Women are the main driving force in this sector and they produce 80% of the food on the whole African continent. However, due to their daily struggles, they still fall short of their potential: socio-cultural barriers prevent women from gaining access to education or training opportunities as well as to further knowledge, which would make it easier for them to do physical labor, especially in the agricultural sector. Associations such as LandFrauen or the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Society for International Cooperation) are therefore involved in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Ghana so that female farmers and workers in the agricultural sector can fully develop their potential. These can be subsidies for work equipment, but also education or training. These offers pay close attention to the realities of women’s lives, for example through local and easily accessible facilities or evening and weekend courses. It is precisely the agricultural sector that amplifies this input. So how is this possible?
Ghanaian women in agriculture and food processing
The fact that the agricultural sector plays a key role is due to historical and economic factors: about half of all jobs in Ghana have always been in agriculture. 80% of these farms are run by small farmers. And a large proportion of these small farms are run by women. Historically, it is mainly women who have been carrying out a large part of the agricultural work. This is where WIAD comes in, the Women in Agricultural Development Directorate, a department of the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture. It recognised the enormous potential of women working in agriculture years ago. Moreover, their support goes beyond agriculture: they pay special attention to women in the agroprocessing industry. WIAD initiatives are supported by well-trained young women who have often studied abroad and have returned home to Ghana. They can realize their know-how and innovative ideas with the help of WIAD.
Ghanaian entrepreneur Ama Boamah studied in Finland and South Africa, but recognised the potential of Ghanaian agriculture. She founded the first organic juice factory in Ghana, whose new products are increasingly popoular among the growing Ghanaian middle class.
It is among the cutting-edge companies with a global vision which are role models for other female entrepreneurs. In order to make this economic sector even more attractive for even younger women, the UWAD (Uniting Women for Agricultural Development) department, which is linked to WIAD, has even launched a “Miss Agriculture Ghana” competition – with great success. The message behind this prize is clear – women are the future of Ghanaian agricultural processing:
„Agriculture is the backbone of our country, and due to the strong interest of women in most of the agric value chain, it has become important to uphold and present the attractive nature of agriculture to the youth, especially young women.”
Ghanaian women on the rise
fairafric is also involved in this change: our partner in Ghana is the chocolate manufacturer Niche. And Niche trains apprentices, such as Trainee Ann. In a video interview, we asked her about her view of the situation and got honest answers like this: What counts is performance. However, that doesn’t discourage them, quite the contrary. Ghanaian women are used to achieving a lot. And with the necessary support and training, they reveal their full potential: 46.4% of Ghanaian companies are now in the hands of women – a record figure that can inspire even European countries. The second issue of the Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship (MIWE) states that company start-ups do not necessarily require a well-off background and strong economic development: Some of the least prosperous and developed economies show a significantly higher participation of women in business than their more prosperous and developed competitors. Ghanaian women know this is the case even without the statistics. Female founders like Sandra have decided to simply roll up their sleeves and do their thing.
“The success stories show me how meaningful my work really is. Thanks to their newly acquired skills, women can find jobs or set up their own businesses and thus become more visible in society,”
Sandra says. Their goal-oriented mindset is paying off. And they show the rest of the world what women’s power looks like in Ghana.