Gender, justice and development: Women and development in Ghana

Carolyn Latimore, University of Pennsylvania


In much of sub-Saharan Africa women are politically powerless and economically oppressed. For the most part, development strategies have had minimal success in improving the quality of life for women. In fact, in many instances African women have been handicapped by changes resulting from development projects. There has also been little regard for the connection between the inadequacy of development initiatives and gender subordination. Failure to consider the gendered structure of African society, including inequalities in the law, education, employment, marriage, reproduction and child care, most often result in the failure of development projects. Women and development became a policy concern in the early 1970's. The global feminist movement had a significant impact on the field of women and development. The United Nations International Development Decade for Women (1976-85), was instrumental in providing a forum for the discussion of women's issues on an international level. It also gave voice to African feminists in critiquing the development process and specifying their needs. Feminist analysis emphasized the relationship between gender subordination and patriarchal control of societal institutions. By the 1980's, among African feminists, as well as feminists within the international planning community, the call became one for gender justice and empowerment. What impact did these events have on women and development strategies in Ghana? This a study of gender inequality in the distribution of social goods and the measures taken by contemporary Ghanaian women to overcome these inequities. How successful have policy makers been in incorporating the needs of Ghanaian women? Has the call for gender equality been effective in eliminating gender discrimination, or, has it merely served to exacerbate gender differences? In what ways have societal institutions reinforced gender subservience? Under what circumstances can development initiatives be utilized to attain feminist goals of gender equality? Despite inequities in development initiatives and disparities in the male/female opportunity structure, Ghanaian women have managed to make gains. Hopefully, this undertaking will contribute to the continuing discourse on development and the significance of gender-based analysis in future planning initiatives.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Area planning & development|Womens studies|African history

Recommended Citation

Latimore, Carolyn, "Gender, justice and development: Women and development in Ghana" (1997). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9800886.