MUNTAKA CHASANT
PEOPLE & STORIES
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Rural Poverty in Ghana Society Women in Poverty

Women At The Front Lines of Rural Poverty in Ghana

What are the realities of the lives of rural women in Ghana today?

November 21, 2020

November 21, 2020

14 Min read time

A rural poor woman carries fuelwood on her head in Ghana. Copyright © 2020 Muntaka Chasant

What are the realities of the lives of rural women in Ghana today?

The vast bulk of the world’s poor are women — and most of them live in rural areas.1

This persistent situation of poverty is most visible in the world’s poorest regions.

Women At High Risk of Poverty in Rural Ghana

The rural population contributes to more than two-thirds of Ghana’s poverty incidence, according to a Ghana Statistical Services report2. And women bear the brunt of this chronic misery.

Rural women walking down dirt rural roads with bundles of fuelwood on their heads is a common sight in many developing regions. However, these sights still cause me a great deal of distress.

I couldn’t help but stop to say hello to the woman in the photos below. I wanted to empathize with her situation as I made my way on the Akwidaa — Newtown Rd from the Cape Three Points area, southernmost Ghana.

She told me people called her Auntie Gyabena, and she does this head-loading every day after farm works and walks on the dirt road for about 7 km to Akwidaa, a fishing village in the southernmost part of Ghana.

I have stopped a few times to pack their load into the car and drove them to the village they were headed. They refuse many times. Not wise to accept a ride from a stranger in the middle of the forest in many parts.

Limited access to financial credit, healthcare, and education are some of the many challenges rural women in Ghana face.

Hundreds of thousands of rural women in Ghana depend directly on small-scale farming, but the paradox is that these same smallholder farmers themselves are among the most food-insecure.

More than a third of the global agricultural workforce3 are women — working incredibly hard to put food on the table for the whole family.

For instance, female agricultural labourers in Africa and other developing regions work more hours per week than men.4

These same women spend up to 90% of their income on the family while men spend only between 30-40 percent.5

Women comprise 21% of the agricultural labour force in Ghana in 2020, according to a recent International Labour Organization data6

Women of Burden: Pervasive Patriarchal Attitude in Rural Culture

A lot of socio-cultural factors discriminate against women in Ghana.

Gender roles are so embedded in Ghana’s rural culture — where labour is divided along male-female lines.

This includes a pervasive patriarchal attitude that sees women carry heavy loads of fresh food and fuelwood on their heads for miles on dirt rural roads to cook meals for the family.

These women bear a painful burden.

Rural women in Ghana spend many hours working on farms every day. They collect fuel for household use after farm works and travel on foot several miles through dense forests all by themselves — sometimes with children.

The same women devote their time to caregiving when they are not on farms — diminishing their capacity to generate income. Especially as maternity is seen as an identity and motherhood becomes a means to assert a position in society.

Back at the village, the men happily have fun:

Not that I can link any of these board game-obsessed men to the women above, but Auntie Gyabena was headed to near the same area I found these men playing checkers.

This persistent gender inequality is too much.

Would this trend significantly improve by the end of the century?

Let me know in the comment section below.

Copyright © 2020 Muntaka Chasant

Sources

  1. https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/gaef3521.doc.htm
  2. https://www2.statsghana.gov.gh/docfiles/publications/GLSS7/Poverty%20Profile%20Report_2005%20-%202017.pdf
  3. http://www.fao.org/3/i2050e/i2050e02.pdf
  4. https://www.ifad.org/en/web/latest/photo/asset/39019147
  5. ibid
  6. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.AGR.EMPL.FE.ZS?most_recent_value_desc=true

November 21, 2020

14 Min read time

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