The role of women in district development planning process; a case study of Atwima District - Ghana

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It has been well documented and supported by field studies that women play key and sensitive roles in families as well as in the community in general. This is reflected in the common dictum among the people of Atwima District that “a house or home without a woman is no house or home” and that “a bachelor has no house or home”. Such sayings also manifest the importance of women in the family even though women are the disadvantaged in the family as well as in the society in terms of decision making and ownership of property. Generally, the field study revealed that women are important resource base of the micro-economy and play pivotal roles towards the realization of socio- economic development of the district. This was evidenced by their involvement in agriculture, trade and small-scale industries promotion, environmental protection and community development. Despite government’s efforts to improve the planning system through adoption of decentralization policy which emphasizes community participation (planning from below), the level of women participation in decision -making is still low. The targeted group of which women are part, is not yet fully involved in decision making and hence not realising its full potentials and abilities in the development planning process. It is anticipated that a variety of factors account for the low level of women participation in Development decision-making process. Therefore, the main thrust of this study is to investigate some of these factors. To investigate the problem at hand, a case study approach was adopted. Three types of questionnaires were administered and relevant interviews conducted. References were also made to both published and unpublished literature materials related to the role of women in development and District development planning process. Empirically, the study revealed that low level of women participation in the Development decision- making process is mostly dependent on a myriad of factors and these include; low levels of education, lack of confidence and self-motivation, existence of prohibitive and outmoded socio-cultural norms and values, lack of motivation and encouragement from key development actors, men’s biases, lack of interest and self-initiative and finally lack of awareness and knowledge about human rights and civil role in society, Virtually, these factors collectively hamper effective and sufficient involvement of women in development related matters in the district. To effectively address the problem, a significant number of recommendations based on the findings have been put forward. Among others these include; creation of self- confidence and motivation among women, promotion and strengthening of cultural revolution, group formation, promotion and strengthening of both formal and informal education for women, establishment of effective communication channels in the district and promotion of connections among disadvantaged women, professionals and women in power. Specifically, greater emphasis should be placed on achieving equal access of women and men to all types of skills in order to avoid gender segregation and dualism. Women need to be offered skills in management, on how to speak in public, how to work with their fellow men and how to put their point across and not only through men. Deliberate efforts to train women to become leaders must be made to enable more women to be in District assembly and other decision making bodies at all levels. Women should be fully equipped with leadership skills. In order to achieve the promotion, advancement and effective participation of women in development, their vocational and skill training is an indispensable precondition and therefore, there is a paramount need to promote the integration of women into the economic, social and cultural development of the district by giving them more access to vocational and skill training programmes. It is clearly evident that there is a significant need of women development. This should be steered towards assisting women by conscientization to become aware of their needs, to attain competence and confidence in sustaining participation, self-direction and cooperation and promoting changes in the individual women and women group’s relationships. Finally, it is imperative to mention that by adopting these proposed courses of action for reform, the planning system in Atwima district in particular and Ghana in general will be more feasible, fair and accommodative to all citizens
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 1998