Researchers at the Economics Department of the University of Ghana, working on economic empowerment for women, have called for enhanced interventions to enable women to participate in Ghana’s labour market actively.
According to the researchers, women’s participation in the labour market for paid work in both the formal and informal sectors remained significantly low.
Making presentations at a research conference at the University of Ghana on Monday, on the theme, “Patriarchy and Women’s Economic Empowerment,” the research works revealed that the barriers to education, career growth, job opportunities, and access to finance, remain high in hindering the economic empowerment of women.
Dr. Priscilla Twumasi Baffour, presenting the outcome of her research work on “Barriers to women’s employment in the future world of work in Ghana,” said due to the barriers, the majority of women appear unprepared to access opportunities in the job market.
She, therefore, called for sensitisation on diverse and changing opportunities for women in the labour market.
In addition, she recommended that the government prioritised training in digital business solutions for young women in entrepreneurship to enable more females to operate in the digital space.
Dr. Monica Lambon-Quayefio, who researched economic livelihoods in rural areas in her work titled, “Walking for Water and Fuel: Welfare Implications for Women and Children in Ghana,” found that family responsibilities and time poverty prevented the majority of Ghanaian women from participating in paid work, with most of them either engaged in family farm work or self-employment.
The study also found that most women in the rural zones spend substantial time fetching water and solid fuels, particularly firewood, resulting in extremely high opportunity costs that prevent them from engaging in paid employment, while children lose school hours.
In that regard, she called for urgent governmental efforts to improve access to clean water and clean energy sources for cooking to enhance the livelihood of women and children.
She recommended an evaluation and a scale-up of the distribution of LPG cylinders for the economic benefit of rural households.
Dr. Nkechi Owoo, presenting a paper on “Couples’ Decision-making power, women’s labour market outcomes and asset ownership,” called for more awareness creation to increase women’s role in economic decision-making at home so as to increase their participation in labour.
This is because her research found that the lower women’s role in family decision-making, the lower their autonomy in deciding their participation in all forms of paid work.
Professor Takyiwaa Manuh, an Emerita Professor of African Studies at the University of Ghana, contributing to the call for improved access to clean water, believed the economic predicament of women in illegal mining-prone areas, has been worsened by the vast destruction of water bodies and farmlands.
“Now women in these areas would have to spend more time and energy in search of clean water and firewood, at the detriment of their economic development,” she stressed.
She said although there have been interventions to promote the economic independence of women, policy instruments for women’s participation in gainful employment remain insufficient.
In his remarks, Professor William Baah-Boateng, Head of the Economics Department, commended the researchers for the incisive outcomes which he believed would augment policy decision-making in developing interventions to support women to contribute meaningfully towards building a productive labour force.
As part of the research conference, which was organised in collaboration with the Hewlett Foundation and the Ley Economics Institute of Bard College, comparative research work from other African countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Mali, and Senegal was also presented by researchers from those countries.