Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam

Technology opens space for women's economic empowerment in Bono region

21/02/2020 - 16:49
News stories

In January 2020 the EU Delegation in Ghana took part in a learning mission on women's economic empowerment. We visited Sunyani in Bono together with Canada and GIZ to discover what obstacles and opportunities there are for women's economic empowerment in the region.

In January 2020 the EU Delegation in Ghana took part in a learning mission on women's economic empowerment. We visited Sunyani in Bono together with Canada and GIZ to discover what obstacles and opportunities there are for women's economic empowerment in the region.

In Ghana 72% of women are economically active. The percentage of women involved in agriculture among the households working in the sector is 41%. Women also produce as much as 70% of the country's food crops. Moreover, women working in the informal sector dominate micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), which make up the majority of Ghana's economy. Hence women have a key stake in the economic development of the country. While Ghanaian women's engagement in business activities is high, their position in the value chain is often lower than men's in terms of access to productive resources such as land and credit. Women's access to financial services is weaker and they have fewer career opportunities.

 

 

The mission, organised by the Gender Equality Stakeholders Development Partners Group (GESTDP), begun with a meeting with women working in maize production, marketing and processing. In contrast to other regions in Ghana, in Bono many women have access to land because in the area daughters inherit land from their mothers. In addition, the women working in the maize value chain are mainly self-financed and have control over their earnings. However, many young women in the region are shifting away from indigenous maize production, perceived as heavy work and long hours for small profit. Negative health effects, such as the smoke produced in traditional cooking processes are a concern. While men are responsible for the mechanized parts of agricultural production, women continue to use simple and traditional farming technologies. Access to modern equipment and technology is essential.

We also met with financial and microfinance institutions to discuss the problems women entrepreneurs face.  Women often lack access to finance and to the kind collateral such as land or a house required to back up a loan. Microfinancing products such as group loans are often the only option for women working in the informal sector. "Women are highly represented in group loans. After a couple of rounds we encourage women to move to individual loans, so that they can grow their business and begin to stand on their own" a representative of Sinapi Aba Savings & Loans explained. Microfinance institutions also try to find alternative ways for women who lack assets. "We try to give them advice on how to deal with banks. Women who do not have collateral can use bank statements proving their transactions as a guarantee", a representative of the Micro Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) noted.

Women entrepreneurs also face more mundane challenges such as the difficulty of leaving the businesses and children in order to visit the financial institutions. Here, technology is opening up new opportunities for women, as some institutions have begun using mobile banking to collect the deposits of women and make saving easier for them.

 

Women dominate microloan and experience shows women are responsible borrowers. "They are more honest in their re-payments", a representative of MASLOC stated.  Several interlocutors also stressed that once women are economically empowered, their families and the community are also better off as women tend to spend the money on the household and the children.

 

While women are well represented in microloans, as the loan sizes go bigger their share diminishes. More effective collection of sex and age disaggregated data (SADD) is needed to help inform evidence based decision making to advance women's economic inclusion.

Editorial Sections: