The role of women’s organisations in economic development: a case study of Dangme West District of Ghana

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The Role of Women in general in economic development in Ghana, just like in many other countries, is considerably significant, particularly in agriculture, industry and trade. However, women actors, as individuals, normally face a diversity of work problems, challenges and hindrances, which considerably limit their performance and contribution. Among these hindrances is the typical relative neglect of women actors at community and/or institutional level, in terms of assistance or support by policy makers, development planners and development agencies or institutions in most of Africa. Women’s organizations (or groups) do normally play an important indirect role in economic development by assisting and enabling their individual members to cope more effectively with their work-problems and challenges and also to improve their performance. The organizations also contribute directly to economic development through owning and operating economic projects and/or carrying out other economic activities. This study was, thus, carried out to study and assess the role of Women’s Organizations in economic development in Dangme West District, as a case study. The results of the study were, essentially, that, individual women farmers, industrialists and traders in the district do similarly face a wide range of work problems, challenges and limitations. These include, inter alia, lack of capital; lack of access to credit, lack of tools and inputs, lack of technical assistance, lack of storage facilities and lack of adequate marketing opportunities. Women’s Organizations play a reasonably significant role in helping their members to deal with these problems, but their capacities are limited. Their direct contribution to the economic development of the district through their economic projects and/or other economic activities is also reasonably significant. They also do have considerable potential not yet fully exploited, because of limited capacities, largely due to lack of capital, lack of access to institutional credit, lack of adequate marketing opportunities, relatively low levels of leadership quality and competence, and lack of adequate community institutional support, etc. Recommendations in the forms of interceptive programmes and/or activities, as well as a guiding implementation strategy have been proposed. If well implemented, these proposed interventions are expected to enhance the capacities of the Women’s organizations to perform better, and also, through them, to enhance the performance of their individual members in their economic activities. The envisaged aggregate product of all the above, should be increased contribution of women in general, to the economic development of the district, as well as, improvement of their own well-being.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 1991