Title

Gender Relations in Local Governance: A Case Study of Bawjiase, Ghana

Publication Date

Spring 5-26-2014

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Nikoi Kote-Nikoi

Second Advisor

Nikoi Kote-Nikoi

Abstract

Gender mainstreaming and women’s economic empowerment are dominant discourses in the international discussion on gender equality, but they are limited by their lack of emphasis on transforming gender relations. This is true in the Ghanaian context: with poorly implemented gender mainstreaming at the national level, and a Ghanaian women’s movement that feels disconnected from discourse on women’s empowerment, the time is long overdue to implement policy that is rooted in an understanding of gender relations at the local level. Through exploring gender delineated decision-making processes in Bawjiase, Ghana, this case study provides a local context for assessing how women are affected by decisions made in their communities. This research asks the question: Which community leaders are primarily responsible for decisions made in reference to land allocation, access to economic opportunity (specifically, access to sales opportunities in the Bawjiase market) and enforcement of laws? Additionally, what are the perceptions of community members and leaders women’s and men’s roles in the community?

Through interviews with 8 community leaders and 20 community members, this research discovered that while men are responsible for most decisions made at the local level, women have unique areas of leadership and independence. Women depend on the goodwill of their male family members for access to land, but once they receive the land, they have a great deal of economic independence from male family members. Women are also largely in control of the local market, and are the economic backbone of the Bawjiase community. While men are dominant in the enforcement of laws, the Queen mother has a unique and powerful position in this sphere, and is highly influential in solving local disputes. Though many men and women still subscribe to what are often defined as “traditional” gender roles, modern education is evolving the discourse on gender relations in the Bawjiase community.

Disciplines

African Languages and Societies | Women's Studies

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