According to the MasterCard Foundation’s index of women entrepreneurs, 46.4% of businesses in Ghana are owned by women.
Women are often driven to businesses in less wealthy markets out of necessity or the need to survive.
Ghana’s Labour Law, Act 651 requires all sexes to be eligible to same allocation of resources, including salary at both private and public sectors.
However, this is not the case though both women and men continue to be active contributors to African economies.
“We are paid a little lower,” said a private sector worker who told me under condition of anonymity.
Inadequate attention to women specific concerns – domestic violence, maternal mortality and political representation – has led to, in many instances, growing tension between women and men.
Gendered division of labour lingers and majority of women continue to be sidelined to only domestic work – typically not paid for and remains invisible.
How has the quest for female dominance and/or equity been so far across the African continent?
Wife battering, associated with cultural understandings of men’s right to control and physical discipline of women and girls, remains the most prevalent form of gender-based violence, a number of gender-based studies revealed.
Greatly segregated by sex, men’s jobs are generally better than women in terms of remuneration and career opportunities, writer Dr. Akosua Adomako Ampofo states.
She discussed that,“the private sector” holds clinical and service positions for women while men are “disproportionately” found in the managerial and administrative class.
“By gender equity, we are not saying neglect the men so that women take over. Historically, women have been sidelined from socio-economic activities. It is about integrating women into the development cycle,” Dr. Ampofo known for her research writings on gender and society clarified.
In terms of education, males are regarded as attaining higher education and generally having access to education than females.
The NGO, Girls Excellence Movement (GEM) based in Accra-Ghana holds the belief girls need to know about their place in society, leadership and personal growth whilst discovering their capabilities through education.
“The ultimate should be equity. If a woman is not fully awakened to her true potential, no amount of opportunity thrown at her will have a positive impact” Project Lead, Juliana Ama Kplorfia explains.
Motivational and capacity building programs, she said, should be directed “towards awakening womanhood.”
“We are proposing the inclusion of personal development programs to boost the inner being of girls and inspire them to aspire to greater heights. Tailor made messages are delivered to the girls; providing mathematical sets to encourage their interest in math; providing sanitary towels as part of personal hygiene talks; and providing refreshment as a way of communicating to network with them,”she continued explaining their monthly flagship outreach program Inspiration on Wheels.
Clustered at the bottom of most establishments, women are in semi-skilled and poorly paid jobs reflecting bygone barriers in terms of educational qualification and cultural prejudices.
Under-represented in the “modern” economy
Development has been gendered. Policies and practices pertaining to men have been distinguished from that of females.
As a nation, we must adopt some measures to increase the participation of women in the country’s politics, Speaker of Parliament Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye acknowledged on Saturday at an Alumni Lecture organized by the University of Ghana to mark its 70th Anniversary.
For many like him, emerging national policies like the Affirmative Action Bill in Parliament seeks to better empower women.
He avers the affirmative action is an instrument of social engineering to cater for some wrong done by the society that needs to be corrected adding that, “this is the essence of lawmaking; the law is an instrument of mischief correction.”
Meanwhile, founder of leading communications community, Women in PR’s Faith Senam Ocloo describes the pace as “fair.”
“There is hope for women to fairly occupy leadership roles in organizations and be acknowledged for the value they bring to the table. The Public Relations industry is no different as we see less women occupying higher PR roles compared to their male counterparts” she explained.
It is possible, she assessed, for the gender gap to be closed as women “inspire and support each other” to be their best as they aim for the top.
Women in PR Ghana, as an organization was founded with the mission to create a platform to educate, mentor and empower young women PR professionals and students by creating opportunities for women to aspire for leadership roles thereby challenging the status quo.
By: Obed Afari Kumi