Women’s political empowerment in Ghana

Project Active from to State and Women's Economic Empowerment

  • This study encouraged women’s participation in grassroots politics in Ghana and then study the effects of greater women’s participation on local political and economic outcomes.
  • The randomised field experiment with a civic education intervention was conducted in partnership with Ghana’s National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).
  • The study found common civic education initiatives can have limited effects and can even be undermined by entrenched social norms.

Researchers demonstrate that patriarchal social norms are a key constraint against grassroots women’s political participation in Ghana. They then show that standard community meeting-based civic education interventions are not effective at changing patterns of women’s behaviour or shifting attitudes about the appropriateness of women’s political participation. Instead, existing social norms against women’s participation in public life appeared to undermine the very intervention aimed at addressing them by reducing the cooperation of local political party organisations with the National Commission for Civic Education’s civic education initiative.

Key policy recommendations are that future civic education programming should focus on other strategies beyond community meetings to affect social change and that further interventions aimed at improving women’s representation should remain focused on addressing patriarchal social norms.