Women’s Education in Ghana

Posted: April 13, 2013 in All Posts, Ghana

by Jamin Shih

The traditional reason behind not educating women is the idea that someone must support the family and sending all the children in a family to school leaves no one to help take care of home issues. Between sending boys and girls, the idea asserts that it would make more sense to send boys because they could have the bigger economic gain. In many countries with this philosophy, men hold significantly more power than women, and thus it seems to be most advantageous for families to take advantage of this gender difference and push their sons to succeed. Indeed, in some countries with a patrilineal social arrangement, having daughters means that the family must spend more money on her once she marries and moves out of the house.

Source: USAid

As the first generation of individuals born in America in my family, I have seen first-hand some of these issues. Daughters in Taiwan move in with their husband and his parents and traditionally take care of her parents in-law. When economically simplified, this means that having daughters costs a family money while having sons brings in money. This is part of the reason why there is s such a huge emphasis on having sons. My grandparents on my mother’s side of the family wanted to retire but continued having daughters [nine in a row, in fact]. They never had a son and thus were never truly able to retire because they had to take care of the house. While my mother and some of her sisters did eventually break some Taiwanese traditions and helped around the house after their respective marriages, especially once my grandparents became sick, my maternal grandparents still were not able to have the relaxed years that my paternal ones did, who had three sons. While my mother and aunts are all well-educated, the problem still remains.

But how do these issues relate to Ghana? Ghana has a similar problem which stems from a disproportionate gender education. Luckily, many non-governmental organizations have made it their mission to solve some of the issues that a lack of formal education for young girls has. As this video demonstrates, there are a variety of reasons why young girls have been educated. It provides vast opportunities for them in their future career and life and also greatly improves economic relations. After all, when roughly half of a population isn’t working, how can we say a country is operating to their maximum financial potential?

I think what stood out to me the most in that video was the woman making money off of chicken eggs. Encouraging people to get involved in business, even in a small one-person business, is extremely important to helping people realize that they can break the gender roles and notions that are so ingrained in our heads. This is one of the reasons that Heifer International is so effective. Giving people the chance to work on a business project of their own is akin to the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day ; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

Chief Justice Georgina Wood

The status of women’s education in Ghana, through the help of many non-governmental organizations and legislation, has greatly improved. Indeed, one of the reasons why Ghana is known for being so progressive is their treatment of women. Ghana currently has 29 women out of 102 seats in Parliament. It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s a wonderful step in the right direction. Ghana also has a female Chief Justice, another outstanding achievement. In addition, there has been a rise in female corporate executives and other women in the public eye.

This all goes to show that education is a gigantic contributor to success in our modern world and denying a thorough education to anyone is doing them a massive disservice. However, despite these advances, there is still much to be done. As this article shows, there are still issues with female objectification in Ghanian media that relates to sexual harassment cases of disturbing frequency. In addition, there is a trend of females pursuing corporate jobs that are told they must sleep with bosses to get the job. All of this stems from a culture that emphasizes that women are meant to be housewives and nurturing mothers over independent individuals.

There is still much to be done, at least the success that has been attained shows that it is indeed possible to rectify this issue.


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