Notes to broadcasters
In Ghana, the issue of gender inequality is a challenge to many development organizations that aim to ensure food security and improve lives in rural communities. Even though it is widely accepted that women contribute about 50 per cent of the country’s food, the majority of them are excluded from decision-making processes.
It is also well known that when women lack control over resources such as land, they are unable to make decisions and take actions to help improve their family’s income.
Without control over family income, for example by growing cash crops, women contribute their time and labour only to maintain subsistence levels, and are more severely affected by poverty than men. Cultural norms and values place a lot of burdens on women, which bar them from activities such as planting crops that cover large areas of land or owning a plantation. This also limits their ability to promote innovative farming practices that would help their families escape perennial hunger.
It is for this reason that the non-governmental organization SEND-Ghana has spent a lot of effort and resources over the years in East Gonja District in the Northern Region of Ghana helping farmers to understand gender equality and its benefits.
SEND-Ghana’s livelihood program places gender equality at the centre of its efforts to empower farm families. Its programs assist farmers’ efforts to work together to increase their incomes in order to feed their families and provide education to their children. SEND-Ghana’s efforts in gender mainstreaming, developing farmers’ co-operatives, and creating community credit unions have been funded and supported by the Canadian Co-operative Association.
Traditionally, women’s roles in Salaga, the capital of East Gonja District, have been to provide farm labour while at the same time acting as caregivers to the family. It has been considered out of place for a man to help a woman prepare a home meal or wash and feed a baby.
Gender equality means equality at all levels of education and in all areas of work, equal control over resources, and equal representation in public and political life.
Today, the call to eliminate gender disparity in all sectors of life by development works cannot be over emphasized. Gender advocates say, “We cannot enjoy development without
security, we cannot enjoy security without development.” Indeed, security issues in the East Gonja District are very critical. The area has experienced a lot of ethnic conflicts, making it difficult for farmers and their families to enjoy peace in their homes.
This script focuses on the importance of sharing farmers’ knowledge on gender equality so that other farmers can benefit. It is based on a farmers’ co-operative group that was established to fight perennial food shortages in the Eastern Corridor of Northern Ghana, otherwise known as “the food triangle of Ghana.” Farmers in this area traditionally practice shifting cultivation, planting crops such as yams, maize, millet, sorghum, groundnuts, cassava and rice. For the first time, these farmers are learning new techniques in mixed cropping and planting cash crops such as soya beans. The other equally important activity carried out by the farmers’ group is gender sensitization. The Kanlade community farmers’ co-operative group is one of over 200 groups established in the program area by SEND-Ghana in northern Ghana.
The script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the people involved in the original interviews.
ScriptFade up signature tune for 10 seconds then under host
Before the farmers’ co-operative group, he treated me like I did not matter. There were always arguments at home because my children and I were always struggling to get our daily meal.
I am now buying and selling food in the Salaga big market. With the money I earn doing that, we repay our loans with the community credit union established by SEND. We also have enough to feed the family and pay the children’s school fees.
The other concern is the cost of chemical fertilizers for growing maize and rice, as well as tractor services. Marketing is another challenge. After harvesting, the market for yams and soya beans is especially poor.
The idea of a couples’ farmers’ co-operative was introduced to support our families and communities to avoid perennial hunger and give quality education to our children.
The Kanlade farmers’ co-operative was established about 10 years ago to encourage farmers – and especially men – to appreciate the role their wives play in farming and home management. The group’s values are based on love, trust, unity, transparency and accountability, as well as peaceful co-existence.
By respecting and adhering to these ground rules, we are gradually achieving some of the objectives we have set up for ourselves in farming and community development.
We have also done away with the traditional farming practice of shifting cultivation and adopted intercropping and crop rotation. This is helping many families because there is such a shortage of land that families cannot afford to let it lie fallow. Even when land is available, it is less fertile than it used to be 20 or 50 years ago.
We have divided the co-operative into smaller groups for our gender education activities. Each smaller group is made up of 18 men and 18 women. One smaller group has 12 men and 12 women. Altogether, we have over 200 members in the larger Kanlade couples’ co-operative group.
But this perception can be changed. And the benefits of understanding gender equality and putting it into practice are enormous, rather than holding beliefs that promote conflict and poverty in the home.
The other challenge is getting tractor services, or transportation to transport the farm produce to the house after harvesting. We also face poor market prices for our produce. We are always being cheated by middlemen traders from big towns and cities.
Apart from these farming challenges, the biggest problem in the community is excessive drinking of alcohol, especially among the youth. This is causing a great deal of tension in families.
We have also appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture through our District Assembly. We have asked the Ministry to support farmers with subsidies for tractor services and fertilizers, and also to encourage irrigated farming in the dry season.
What is working and yielding results are the farmers’ couples’ co-operatives. We will continue to promote this model until farmers in the whole district adopt it.
So these are some of the measures the group is implementing. But we lack capacity or knowledge. So we are seeking support from partners who might be knowledgeable in these areas or have the resources to support the group.
I believe you have also learned something today to help your lives. Don’t miss the next episode ofVom Yellaon Radio Style.
Have a blessed day. Till we meet again, bye.Signature tune for 10 seconds then fade out
- Contributed by: Lydia Ajono, Community radio producer and volunteer at the Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN).
- Reviewed by: John Julian, Director, International Communications & Policy, Canadian Co-operative Association; and Andrea Vandette, Program Analyst/Assistant in Canadian Co-operative Association’s International Development Unit, and, from November 2010 to April 2011, Gender Program Officer with SEND-Ghana, based in Salaga.
Mr. Sebewie Lawali, chairman, the Kanlade farmers’ co-operative group, Salaga, Northern Region, Ghana.
Madam Margaret Ajokumah, member and gender peer educator in the Kanlade couples farmers’ co-operative group, Salaga, Northern Region, Ghana.
Mr. Eric Atta, SEND-Ghana Co-operative Information Officer in charge of the Salaga District.
Mr. Raymond Avatim, SEND-Ghana program manager in charge of East Gonja District, Northern Region, Ghana.
The entire SEND-Ghana management and staff team, Northern Region, Ghana.
Interviews conducted on April 18, 2011
SEND-Ghana website: http://www.sendwestafrica.org/west/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=7&Itemid=64
Information on gender and co-operatives on the Canadian Co-operative Association website athttp://www.coopscanada.coop/
Information on gender on the Eldis website at https://cms.eldis.org/go/topics/resource-guides/gender