Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Analsying changes in women’s work in Ghana

Gender Centre Launches Project
Daily Graphic, Tuesday, May 5, 2009 (Gender and Children) Page 11
Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho

A three-year research project on the changing character of women’s work and its implication for women’s livelihood security has been launched in Accra. The project, known as, “Formalising the informal and informalising the formal: Analsying changes in women’s work in Ghana,” will examine women’s work in two sectors, namely baking and paid domestic work.

Funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the project, which is being undertaken by the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy (CEGENSA) of the University of Ghana in three urban centres, namely, Accra, Kumasi and Tamale, seeks to examine the changing nature of work, especially in the banking and domestic sector, with a view to making policy recommendations for improving work condition in the two sectors.

According to the Project Lead Researcher, Dr. Dzodzi Tsikata, the two sectors, one in the formal and the other in the informal economies were illustrations of some important developments in the character of women’s work .

She said both sectors had seen significant changes since the 1990s when economic liberalisation policies began to gain roots, and that domestic work was increasingly being procured through agents and agencies, while on the other hand, the banking sector, traditionally seen as the bastion of formality and long-term employment is changing with the introduction of labour agencies into the sector.

These changes, she said, were taking place in a general context of labour market liberation and the informalisation of work in both developed and developing countries, with these two sectors being illustration of the changing character of women’s livelihood.

She said informal work was becoming more prominent among women across the country, with most women going into hawking, trading, sewing, domestic and other unpaid work, a situation which she said had generated lesser incomes therefore jeopardized their security.

According to her, the country’s labour law favours formal work, but the focus should be looked at since most people were now becoming self-employed and called for equal opportunities for both formal and informal work in the labour laws.

Dr Tsikata, who mentioned some the objectives of the research, said it was to create a gender profile for domestic and banking sectors, as well as for agencies involved in the sectors and to examine the changes in the labour conditions and its implications for employment security and the social security of women workers in the banking and domestic sectors.

She said the study was to explore ways in which reproductive work differentiated women and men’s experiences of change in domestic and banking sectors. The project, she said, would also analyse any relationship between labour legislation and policies and informalisation, and explore the extent to which laws and policies were tackling the challenges of informalisation.
The research, which was undertaken by four female researchers, Dr Nana Akua Anyidoho, Dr Akosua Darkwa, Prof Akosua Adomako Ampofo and Dr. Tsikata, established that most banks sampled, preferred to use agency staff as a way of saving cost.

According to the research, a total o f13 banks in the three research areas which were sampled, also revealed that sourcing for agency staff enabled the banks to focus on their core business.

The research also revealed, among other things, that domestic workers employed through an agent or agencies, normally received better conditions of service than bank staff employed through an agency, although in monitory terms the bankers received better pay conditions.
It further revealed that agencies outsourced more women to the banks and as domestic staff than men.

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