Notes to broadcasters
According to a recent World Bank study, women account for about 60% of the informal sector and provide about 70% of total agricultural labour in Africa. But women face many challenges when it comes to accessing, controlling, and owning farmlands. The gender disparities in access to and control over land and other productive resources and its implications for women in Africa are clear. In Ghana, particularly in the northern regions, these challenges can be attributed to many different factors.
For instance, customary lands, which account for an estimated 80% of the country, are managed by traditional authorities and governed under cultural lineages and inheritance systems. These systems are patrilineal, which means that men receive exclusive rights to land and women have access to land mainly through male family members. Women’s access to land is therefore tied to their marriage and their husband’s lineage.
In this script, you will hear the success story of a woman in northern Ghana who has been successful at owning and maintaining farmland gained through inheritance. You will also learn more about the challenges facing women in general with access to land.
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 original people involved in the interviews.
You may want to use this script to research a similar topic in your area and write your own script. You could ask your interviewees the following questions:
- Why do women farmers often produce less than men?
- What can be done to close the productivity gap between women farmers and their male counterparts?
- Do women farmers face challenges accessing land, finance, technologies, and farm inputs? If so, how can this be addressed?
Estimated duration of the radio script with music, intro and extro: 25-30 minutes.
Do you know that, despite the fact that women account for a large proportion of Ghana’s agricultural workforce, women have limited or no access to or ownership of farmland? Did you also know that, if women had access to and control over farmland, it would have a positive impact on household food supply, income, and family welfare? We will be discussing these issues with a woman who has successfully hung on to fertile land she gained through inheritance.
Men’s education levels also affect women. Often, educated men see the logic in supporting their wives to succeed, and understand how this will benefit their wife and their family. But if a man is uneducated, he may not see the need to support women to succeed and instead believe that their place is in the kitchen. This may come in part from fear that a successful woman will want more power and control more resources than her husband. This situation affects the unequal distribution of power between women and men, girls, and boys in all spheres of our life.
Generally, women farmers in northern Ghana lack information on best practices to achieve good yields. Sometimes a women’s group is lent a piece of land, but the land has been overused and is unproductive.
Some married women use a part of their husband’s land to produce vegetables and green leaves to prepare food. This is mainly for home consumption and they sell a little, but they have no power to decide how to use the land except to compliment what their husbands plant. And women who are divorced, separated, or widowed may not even have the kind of land that is enjoyed by married women.
Traditionally, family lands are leased to a male member of the family, who enjoys the right to use them. When the man dies, the land is transferred to another male in the family along with the rights to use the land. Wives are seen as helpmates of the man and, therefore, their access to family land depends on the husband.
Because of our patriarchy and traditional customs, even if a husband owns some land, the wife does not inherit the land after his death. The land either goes to the man’s brother or his other family members. So because women lack economic power, because they do not have access to land because of traditional issues, and because of high illiteracy even for those who have a little land, managing a farm and getting other resources like fertilizers and money to pay farm labourers is a problem.
Land is not part of the property that a woman inherits. A woman is always somebody’s daughter. That’s the agony. You will be married off to a different family—and so you don’t have access to your own parents’ farmland. Eventually they say you belong to another family. And when you are married and with your in-laws, they say you are from somewhere else. These are deeply-held cultural beliefs.
So we negotiate MOUs with traditional authorities for longer ownership of pockets of land. And we support women to meet the District Assembly and Department of Agric to get government support, especially related to government policies such as distribution of free or subsidized fertilizer and distribution of subsidized seeds—things that we think will be beneficial to women.
Mr. John Mahama, I understand you work closely with women like Sumani. Can you further explain the situation to us?
Some women have grandchildren and they do not have enough land to support the entire family. These women come to me when it is time to farm and I give them land—not permanent land, just for this year. Next year if they are not in a position to farm it, I will give it to another woman to farm free of charge.
All too soon we have come to the end of another insightful edition of Farm Right. I want to ask our earlier resource persons something: after listening to Sumani Mariama and the chief, do you have any final words of advice?
Contributed by: Linda Dede Nyanya Godji, https://agrighanaonline.com/
Reviewed by: Lillian Bruce, Executive Director, Development and Land Solutions Consult in Accra, Ghana.
Hajia Lamnatu Adam, November 23, 2021
Sumani Mariama, February 26, 2022
John Mahama, February 26, 2022
This resource is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.