Reducing gender-based violence for women entrepreneurs in northern Ghana.

Posted on 08/10/2021

WAGE Ghana WE worshop participants
Participants in the WE-GAIN workshop in Ghana. Credit: Alfred Yeboah/Grameen Foundation.

Despite Ghana’s rise to lower middle-income status, rural households in northern Ghana experience high poverty rates and economic exclusion.

Women have limited access to a range of formal financial services, which prevents them from obtaining the capital they need to start, grow, or improve their businesses. Only 10% of women in this region can obtain credit from a formal institution.

At the same time, an initial risk assessment conducted by Grameen Foundation, in partnership with the ABA ROLI-led WAGE consortium, found that harmful gender norms and gender-based violence (GBV) risks increase for women entrepreneurs. It cites an earlier study that found 27% of all women experience physical GBV and 34% experience sexual GBV. This has led to the creation of GBV response referral networks that are mandated by the government. However, in rural Northern Ghana, these referral networks are weak and support services are often costly and hard to reach.

Other health emergencies, such as malaria and COVID-19, and lack of access to agricultural equipment for aspiring farmers compounds challenges to women’s equity in northern Ghana.

In response, WAGE launched a 24-month initiative, Women Entrepreneurs in Northern Ghana Gain Access to Integrated Services via Agent Networks (WE-GAIN). The project is led by Grameen Foundation, in close partnership with ABA ROLI and local civil society organizations RISE Ghana, Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA), the HealthKeepers Network, and Mobile Telecommunications Networks Ghana.

WE-GAIN will use the findings from its risk assessment to effectively train 90 female mobile money agents, connecting them to digital financial services and empowering them to serve as business advisors to other women in their communities.

Critically, WE-GAIN will also train these women to serve as gender-based violence report support agents. The business centers of these agents would also be used as referral centers for GBV victims.

Speaking at the launch of the key findings with key stakeholders in Tamale, the Regional Director for Grameen Foundation Africa, Alfred Yeboah, indicated that the cost of training and setting up these female agents would be fully absorbed by the foundation.

“The project will provide start-up capital for them, train them and provide them all the support they need to succeed as Mobile Money agents who are also able to accrue profit from their business,” said Yeboah. “Then we can also use them as change agents when it comes to gender-based violence awareness creation in their communities.”

Learn more about WE-GAIN on the WAGE blog.

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