Source: United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) |

In Ghana, Women Break Traditional Gender Roles to Tackle Climate Change

The objective of GrEEN is to use grants and technical assistance to create local financial ecosystems

Thanks to the GrEEn project, I was given the chance and I believe more women should be given this chance as well

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 9, 2022/APO Group/ --

Building resilient communities that withstand and adapt to the impacts of climate change can start with the hard work of women like Sarah Gyamfuah, a young single mother who’s breaking traditional gender roles in Ghana. As team leader on a bridge construction project overseeing scores of workers, Ms Gyamfuah is contributing to the sustainability of her community and gaining valuable skills and experience for her personal development at the same time.

Ms Gyamfuah and other women from Ejura, a suburb of the Sekyere Edumase Municipal Assembly in the Ashanti Region, are taking part in a European Union funded Cash for Work action under the Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana, or GrEEn project with technical support from the UN Capital Development Fund.

“Serving as the community facilitator on this project was a major challenge for me, considering I had to supervise people who were many times my senior. When there were disputes, I was the one tasked to settle these, had to ensure people did the tasks they’ve been assigned to even though people some wanted to receive their wages without actually working,” said Ms Gyamfuah, who is 22 years old and a single mum to a little boy.

“This has been an eye-opening experience for me. I never believed I could take on such a leadership role and the skills I developed along the way has been of immense benefit. I am more confident now and believe I can achieve more in life,” Ms Gyamfuah added.

The GrEEn Project is aimed at creating greater economic and employment opportunities for youth, women and returning migrants by promoting and supporting sustainable, green businesses in the Ashanti and Western Regions of Ghana. The objective of GrEEN is to use grants and technical assistance to create local financial ecosystems that facilitate the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and enable the transition of local economies to green and climate resilient development. GrEEn is implemented under the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.

Women form almost half of the total population in Ghana and although significant strides have been made in closing the gender gap in recent years, inequalities remain. For instance, women are more likely to be employed in the low paying informal sector and in general earn about 30 percent of what their male counterparts do.

The inequalities that exist between men and women in Ghana can be partly attributed to cultural practices and norms that continue to limit the role of women in the workplace and relegate women to specific jobs. The trend is gradually shifting and more women are performing tasks that were only previously thought to be only for men.

>Together with other women and men from her community, Ms Gyamfuah and others provided the low-skills manual labour for the construction of a flood resistant bridge over a stream in her community. For many in Ghana, the thought of women providing physical labour on a construction project is virtually unheard of. This is a job that is exclusively reserved for men who are often regarded as the “muscle” on such projects.

Determined to disprove the notion of men and women being unequal, Ms Gyamfuah went one step further and assumed the duty of timekeeper and community facilitator of the construction project in her community. In effect, she served as the foreman for the construction, supervising over 80 people most of whom were much older than her. Due to cultural norms in Ghana, it is perceived as inappropriate for a young person to give instructions to older people and even more taboo for a younger female to do so.

As part of the Cash for Work opportunities, beneficiaries also received practical training to boost their entrepreneurship and skills. This, Ms Gyamfuah believes, has helped her acquire a new job as well as enabled her to start a small business.

“The wages I earned from the Cash for Work programme helped me enrol my child in school. Prior to this activity, he was home, and this was a significant worry for me. My child is my joy and he’s what inspires me every morning. I believe I need to strive to make the best of my life, so he also benefits from my hard work” Ms Gyamfuah stated.

After taking part in the project, Ms Gyamfuah believes that more needs to be done to empower women in Ghana. She says that the notion of jobs reserved for men or women should be a thing of the past.

“Women are perfectly capable of performing tasks meant for men,” said Ms Gyamfuah. “Thanks to the GrEEn project, I was given the chance and I believe more women should be given this chance as well.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).