The cost of electricity in the country’s industrial zones has been identified as a major demotivation for women to own industrial businesses, such as milling and metal fabrication which require heavy consumption of electricity.
It has, therefore, been recommended that subsidies be given to women who are very entrepreneurial and are using electricity productively, to enable them to scale up their businesses as part of efforts to bridge the gender gap in the industrial sector.
The recommendation was made after a study was conducted by the Institute of Statistical, Social, and Economic Research (ISSER) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the United Kingdom.
The study, which examined the productive uses of energy between men and women, gathered responses from 118 business owners sampled within the Light Industrial Zones (LIZ) of Berekum, Techiman and Tuobodom in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Out of the total number of respondents, only 12 of them, representing 10 per cent of the sample size, were women.
The study found that more than half of the businesses in the LIZ were heavily dominated by men because “enterprises located in industrial zones present lower profits” as compared to those in residential areas whose tariffs were about five times lower than the industries.
The situation, it stated, accounted for the decision by most of the women in the study areas to engage in petty trade or businesses that required limited or no amount of energy and physical strength as some of the businesses, including mechanical works, employed large amounts of manpower to limit their expenditure on electricity.
The ISSER held a workshop in Accra on Tuesday, January 22 to disseminate the findings of the study, which was conducted in May 2018.
The study was funded by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) with support from the International Network on Gender and Energy (ENERGIA).
A Senior Research Fellow at ISSER, Dr Simon Bawakyillennuo, who led the presentation, explained that the study aimed at improving understanding on the gendered constraints that affected women’s chances to benefit from the productive use of energy as much as men.
The study, he said, was part of an assessment of the Energising for Development (EnDev) Project implemented by the GIZ-Ghana between 2007 and 2014, during which some selected areas in the Brong Ahafo Region benefited from the provision of electricity.
Dr Bawakyillennuo stated that the low representation of women in the industrial sector as gathered by the study was also attributable to some socially constructed roles for men and women which affected the association of the women in the study areas in activities that were dominated by men.
He, therefore, called for wider education against occupational stereotypes to encourage more women to venture into all the sectors of the economy and contribute their quota to national development.
“Investments in gender equality in education facilitate women’s entry in formal occupations, bringing stability and income to the household,” he stated.