The provision of capacity building and intensive awareness creation by Shea Network Ghana (SNG) encouraged more rural women to see Shea picking as a profession, a means of survival for their livelihoods and economic growth.
The project, funded by Star Ghana under its Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) policy with support from donor partners such as Danida, the European Union and UKAid, has helped improve the marginalised women’s rights to access and control Shea parklands to guarantee long-term sustainable investment.
It has also helped to increase the right of rural women within the Shea sector to access and participate in Shea resources governance for economic growth. Accessing the economic Shea tree by the women Shea pickers has been a big headache, as it is only on temporary and annual basis, without guaranteed access for long-term management.
It was behind this background that the project was developed to advocate for the inclusion of women and other socially excluded groups in the governance of Shea resources in twelve (12) districts across northern Ghana.
This came to light at closing ceremony of the three-year project held for the representative of the marginalised women and stakeholders at the premises of SNG in Tamale, the Northern Region capital.
The project was implemented in Mion, Karaga, Gushegu, East Mamprusi, East Gonja, West Gonja and North Gonja, as well as Savelugu Municipality. The rest are Kasena Nakana East and West in the Upper East Region; and Lambusie, Lawra districts in the Upper West Region.
It has also helped to address the elements of discrimination against marginalised women affecting access to naturally growing trees which should be available for all to access and invest in.
The Shea tree is the main source of Shea kernels, which to a large extent is a major component of the savannah ecosystem and has been traditionally managed. The traditional system has been of farmer-managed, communal and clan ownership of the trees – in many cases restricted mainly to landowners and indigene males.
The National Cocoordinator for SNG, Iddi Zakaria, said the project was meant to engender a common national Shea agenda; facilitate and coordinate the efforts of all stakeholders in promoting Shea for equal benefits of actors in the sector; and also ensure a Shea industry in which there are increased equitable benefits for all actors along the entire value chain.
“With capacity support, women can demand their rights to inclusion for decision-making on shea resource governance; and emphasise that it is possible for organised groups to manage community resources,” he said.
He noted that the Network has been supporting rural women collectors’ empowerment for the last decade.
He said the SNG is a 200-member-based organisation of shea sector businesses, stakeholders and value chain actors that seeks to advocate for sector policies, improve cooperative action among women, reinforce the shea value chain and create market opportunities for all actors, especially rural women.
Emmanuella Kyerema of Arocha Ghana called for a shea tree policy to help with protection of the domestic hea.
Hajia Alima Sagito Sa-eed, Chief Executive Officer of SIRDA, said there is a lot of information and interest in Shea but the role of the actors has not been highlighted, hence implementation of the project.
According to her, the project has helped to reduce the poverty in the North being encountered by rural women.
Habib Haruna, Chief Executive Officer of Pure Trust Social Investor Foundation, said the unit partnered to help with enhancement of the Shea sector to boost business activities of the women so as to promote economic, security and social inclusion of the disadvantaged in Ghana through cooperation.