Professor Cudjoe: Empowering women requires a holistic approach

Social empowerment of women

Professor Samuel NA Cudjoe, former Director of the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) at the University of Ghana, said that empowering women requires a comprehensive approach and broader stakeholder engagement to make it more efficient.

He mentioned the involvement of traditional and local governance structures, capacity building and advocacy as some of the ways to improve support for women’s activities.

Professor Cudjoe was speaking at a dissemination workshop to highlight achievements and lessons learned from a project led by RIPS and its partners, on “Empowering Women and Transforming Gender Relations in the Volta delta”.

The project builds on the findings of the study on Delta Vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation (DECCMA) on the Volta Delta region of Ghana.

He identified traditional leaders, local government agencies (MMDAs) as well as women’s groups and individuals as actors who need to work together to ensure greater support for women’s empowerment.

The 12-month project was implemented in two districts of the Volta Region, namely South Tongu District and Keta Municipal Assembly.

It builds the capacity of women in the targeted districts to acquire expertise and skills in alternative livelihoods; business management and marketing; packaging and storage of agricultural products; and access to microfinance for their businesses.

The project was carried out with a grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada, under the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) program .

It was conducted by RIPS and the Institute of Environmental and Sanitation Studies (IESS), in partnership with Pro-Link, a non-governmental organization promoting equitable development of the rural and urban poor, especially women and girls, and in collaboration with Kulima Integrated Development Solutions, based in South Africa.

Professor Cudjoe said the overall vision of the project is to empower women and transform gender relations in the Volta Delta through the integration of gender-responsive climate actions into existing practices around the efficient use of accessible land, to combat excessive concentration on local markets, monotony of crops grown, lack of alternative livelihood opportunities, lack of agribusiness expertise including packaging and storage, as well as limited access to microfinance options.

He announced that a baseline survey conducted as part of the project revealed that women faced significant challenges in their ability to use the land available to them for increased economic returns.

He said that to support responsive and adaptive livelihoods with the overarching vision of empowering women in the Volta Delta through capacity building for effective land use, a needs assessment was conducted to identify the capacity needs of women to use their land effectively.

“Funding remains a major challenge for women’s groups due to their informal nature, formalizing these groups by registering them as cooperatives with MMDAs would increase their credibility for financial access in the future,” he said. he adds.

Ms. Bernice Mpere Gyekye, an official of Pro-Link, said she identified key stakeholders who showed interest in the project and greatly supported their activities on the ground and expressed their gratitude for the gestures.

Participants highlighted the need to link women’s groups with local actors and district assemblies to sponsor their products as well as access financial assistance, while they look elsewhere for support from international donors.

They are also of the opinion that it is time for a study to be carried out on the problems facing men in coastal communities and to propose a solution that will put women and men in the Volta Delta on the same level.

Some of the problems identified include erosion of landing sites, competition with domestic trawlers, light fishing, among others.

According to them, the problems have forced most fishermen to migrate, and others have changed jobs from fishermen to ‘trotro’ drivers to adapt to the effects of climate change on their livelihoods.

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