Towards a positive gender balance in the Ghanaian wood processing industry
ACCRA, 12th OCTOBER 2018: New study describes existing gender balance and makes recommendations.
The Global Timber Forum (GTF) today publishes a commissioned analysis of gender in the wood processing sector in Ghana.
The new study reveals that in the wood processing sector women workers are much less visible than their male counterparts yet are involved in multiple areas of the value chain. This involvement ranges from the administration and provision of labour through to acting as financiers of business.
At a country-level, other studies on gender balance have previously shown that Ghana outperforms many regional neighbours in sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, the country ranks 72 out of 144 countries across all criteria in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2017 and has a particularly high score for the criteria of ‘economic participation and opportunity’.
The study identifies the following key findings:
- Participation of women exists across all points of the wood processing sector.
- Roles assigned to men and women in the sector are however defined by the historical and socio-cultural context.
- Women’s involvement in leadership and governance of wood processing associations is relatively lower than that of men.
- There is limited understanding and appreciation of the impact of gender imbalances in the sector, even amongst those men and women working in the sector.
- Actors in the sector lack knowledge of existing laws on women’s rights to engage in, and have a voice in, the sector.
In terms of business opportunity for the wood processing sector, the United Nations Development Programme cited a figure of 95 billion USD as lost to productivity every year through the failure to integrate women into national economies across sub-Saharan Africa.
The study therefore makes a series of recommendations for policy makers as well as for the associations that represent the wood processing sector.
Selected recommendations made in the study:
- Cultural limitations to women’s agency should be acknowledged and, where necessary, purposive strategies should be followed for example where the aim is to increase women’s engagement in leadership and governance.
- State agencies should invest in awareness raising about gender and in building capacity of their staff, and of wood processing sector associations’ leadership, in gender and gender analysis.
- Association leadership should sensitise membership about what gender is about and raise awareness of its relevance to the contributions both female and male members make to the sector.
- Associations should carry out simple participatory gender analysis of their organisation and members. This will increase understanding of the needs, interests and fears of both men and women engaged in the sector.
Learning from success
As part of the study one company was highlighted as having made a number of policy changes to improve the gender balance as well as the types of jobs available to each gender. The Bibiani Logs and Lumber Company Limited, is a family-owned business that has been in operation since the late 1960s. It employs 371 people of which women constitute 100. The Chairperson of the company is a woman.
Both men and women are given equal opportunities for self-development on the job without any discrimination. The company’s policies make it a requirement for both men and women to be trained on all areas of production. As a result, the company has women operating a range of machinery including veneer milling.
Recent interviews demonstrate that the steps taken on gender by the leadership of the company has increased awareness and acceptance of opportunities of equal value for men and women in the company.
Study author, Nana Ama Yirrah, said ‘The study clearly shows an opportunity for the Ghanaian wood processing industry to attain the business benefits of a more diverse workforce. Clearly SMEs have a wide range of pressing business challenges, but I believe this study shows that some small steps can be taken now to create a more favourable gender environment. For example, this can start with putting in place gender sensitive policies and appropriate sensitisation and training.’
Notes to Editors
- The full study can be found here
- During 2017 GTF commissioned Nana Ama Yirrah to undertake an analysis of gender in the forest industries sector in Ghana.
- Nana Ama Yirrah is a Land Economist, Development Policy Analyst and Gender Specialist by profession with over 21 years of experience in land and natural resource governance, land policy, women’s land rights and development practice.
- Methodology involved interviews with forestry association members and public sector agencies, with fifty-one interviews being held in total, representing fourteen associations and institutions, with ten of the interviewees being women. Research tools were participatory and included application of a simple gender analytical framework combined with story-telling and case studies.
- The study has been funded by UK Aid from the UK government; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.
Global Timber Forum (GTF) builds the capability and capacity of forest and wood-based associations to engage Micro and SME members on responsible trade.
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