Typically, economic development projects focused on agriculture and food security ignore the issue of land tenure. This is because most economic development projects tend to be gender-neutral, which is often gender-blind in reality, focused on male heads-of-households, who tend to control economic resources with the assumption that the benefits will trickle down to women and children. For a women-centric project, like Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW), MEDA found that land tenure was critical and underpinned women’s ability to participate in agriculture, their agricultural productivity – that includes access to all natural resources whether it be water, trees for firewood or fruits from the tress themselves – and ultimately, their income. Once women are able to earn incomes, they are able to make decisions by increasing investments in children’s education and health, and reduced household poverty2 and improve their overall agency within their homes and community.
A gender lens or gender analysis is required for economic development projects, especially projects focused on agriculture, to identify gender-based constraints, along with general market constraints. Gender analysis can also contextualize and provide implementers and funders with an understanding of the enabling environment, that govern and drive women and men’s behavior and attitudes. Therefore, it is important to identify gender-based constraints, to develop mitigating strategies that reduce gender inequalities in access to and control over the resources and that benefit development. This paper will discuss Ghana’s enabling environment and gender-based constraints, as they relate to land tenure and security, and highlight project interventions, such as advocacy and increased gender awareness. It will also highlight project results, challenges faced by the project and lessons learned, which include designing an outcome around secure land access and conducting advocacy and sensitization events with customary leaders earlier in the project.