Women’s Role and Participation in Water Supply Management : The Case Study of the Republic of Ghana
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AbstractWomen are increasingly being recognised internationally as essential actors in successful water supply management. Despite this, women are nevertheless still being excluded from water management activities which have proved to frequently result in water project failure. This has great consequences for water supply and water distribution capacity and efficiency. Women‟s exclusion often stems from traditional and deeply rooted gender differences where women, compared to men, are not given the same rights and opportunities. Therefore, in particular focuses in this study are cultural barriers and socio-economic obstacles and challenges that may hinder female participation. Although Ghana is considered to have rich water resources, the production, distribution and use of water is not efficient, sufficient, or sustainable. This impedes the country‟s socio-economic development. Most affected are women and children as they are often directly linked to the water source through their role as water collectors. In relation to this, the study investigates the importance of women‟s participation in water management within the Republic of Ghana. Furthermore, the study examines the efficiency and adequacy of measures and actions implemented to improve female participation in water supply management. For data collection, a case study approach was adopted including an in-depth literature review, interviews with essential actors in Ghana and document analysis of Ghana‟s National Water Policy and National Gender and Children Policy. Interviews and documents were analysed with a content analysis and a comparative analysis approach. The study found that women in Ghana, despite acknowledging their important role in Ghanaian water „society‟, experience great limitations in their participation in water management. Traditional norms and practices constitute a major obstacle together with a strongly male-dominated society that often prevents women from participating in the public sphere. The study indicates that there is a need to reform the legal system and the procedures of enforcement to encourage female participation in the water management. Furthermore, the Government of Ghana ought to improve financial, human, and material support within its agencies and associates to facilitate and enable female involvement. Moreover, there is a great need to improve women‟s rights to, and attendance in, education. Additionally, raising the awareness of gender and women‟s issues in general is crucial in order to initiate changes of traditional norms and practices and consequently improve their participation in the water management. By reforming Ghanaian women‟s situation, their role and status will be strengthened, not only within water management, but as well in the wider society.