Ghanaian women, creating economic security : an analysis of gender, development, and power in the Volta Region of Ghana, West Africa Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/bn9998906

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  • In June 1999, I was a volunteer for a United States non-governmental organization, Crossroads Africa. I joined six other American women traveling to Ghana, West Africa to participate in a collaborative program designed by the Ghana Red Cross Society and Crossroads Africa. Specifically our group was assigned to work on a Women in Development (WID) project with three rural women's collectives, "Mothers Clubs," assisting them with income-generating projects in the Volta Region of Ghana. The projects varied among the villages. hi village one, Anfoeta Tsebi, the women extracted oil from palm fruit and kernels. They sold palm oil at regional markets and used the oil domestically to make stews and soap for washing. In village two, Heffi, Mothers Club members baked bread and processed gari from cassava yarns. In village three, Anyirawase, the women made batiks, tie-dye, beadwork, and woven mats from corn husks. My research objective was to evaluate the role that gender, the WID design, and power played in each project. I also sought to use my observations and the voices of African women to assess the successes and failures of the collaborative program of the Ghana Red Cross and Crossroads Africa. I used participant observation to gather this information. The sample was inclusive of project participants. I found that the womens' collectives provided positive networks of support for members. The women taught our Crossroads volunteers about how they were creating change. The collectives also showed how successful development depends on improving the quality of life for individuals. The women gained skills in leadership and health education, while they improved their economic situation. Women were becoming collectively empowered through their role as active agents for change in their communities. Their hard work, dedication, and widespread recognition of their accomplishments contributed to group empowerment. My findings suggest that the primary obstacles to project success were lack of resources and time and physical exhaustion from an increased workload Poor preparation and training for Crossroads volunteers and their ideological fragmentation prevented effective assistance and collaboration with the Mothers Clubs. One of my recommendations for future improvements is to integrate men into the development process to play a constructive role and minimize their opportunity for unwanted interference. Another recommendation is to encourage Ghana Red Cross leaders to hold seminars for women from different villages to allow for an exchange of knowledge about development projects. Finally, recommend that Crossroads Africa and Ghana Red Cross leaders make a greater effort to collaborate and improve preparation and training for participants.
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