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Gender and Land Rights Database



In 2008, the total population was estimated at 23.35 million, of which 11.52 million were women (1). Of the total population, 50 percent lived in rural areas (1). In 2000, women accounted for 49 percent of the rural population (2). Despite the country average of 60 persons per square kilometre, rural density attains 307.1 persons per square kilometre (3).

In 2007, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was US$15.1 billion, while the per capita GDP was US$646, with an annual average growth rate of 2.1 percent in 1990-2007 (4). The economy is centred mainly on agriculture. In 2006, agriculture contributed to 37.3 percent of the GDP and employed 56 percent of the labour force (5). Industry accounted for 25.3 percent of the GDP and services accounted for 37.5 percent (5). About 2.7 million smallholders, with an average holding of 1.2 ha, account for 80 percent of agricultural production. Smallholders produce most cocoa, the country’s major agricultural export (3), which in 2007 totaled US$1.037 million worth of export value (1). Main agricultural produce include cocoa, rice, cassava, peanuts, corn, shea nuts, bananas and timber (5).

With a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.518 in 2006, the country ranks 154th out of 182 countries (4). In 2006, 30 percent of the population lived under the US$1 a day poverty line (6). In 2004, 9 percent of the entire population was undernourished (6). The rural population is worst hit: about six out of ten small-scale farmers live under the poverty line (3). Life expectancy at birth in 2007 was estimated at 57.4 years for women and at 55.6 years for men (4). In 2007, the HIV prevalence among the adult population was 1.9 percent (7). Women face the greatest burden of the HIV/AIDS pandemic (8). At the end of 2001, over 51 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS were women (9). Literacy rates in 2007 were 74.8 percent for women and 79.7 percent for men (6).

In 2007, the female labour force was 49 percent out of a total of 10.25 million economically active people (1). Fifty percent of the working women are engaged in agriculture, accounting for 44 percent of the agricultural labour force (1). Women produce around 70 percent of food crops, covering 40 percent of all the cultivable land (9). About 90 percent of women are self-employed or work as unpaid family labour in farming, agricultural enterprises, or small-scale manufacturing in the informal sector; only a minority are independent farmers (10).

The 1992 Constitution vested all public lands in the President in trust for the people of Ghana (11) and divided land in to two categories held under public and customary tenure systems (12). Public land is vested in the President and managed by Central Land Commissions, all stool lands are vested in the customary governments, called stools or skins, on behalf of and in trust for the subjects of the stool (11). It is estimated that 80 percent of the country’s lands are held under customary land tenure systems (11). The various forms of customary tenure cause widespread disputes over land as a result of the difficulty of traditional authorities in identifying the extent of land boundaries. To overcome these problems, the government issued the National Land Policy document in 1999, the recommendations of which are to be implemented over a period of 15 year, under the Land Administration Project (LAP). The LAP’s overall objective is to establish a clear and consistent set of land administrative policies and laws and to have a decentralized land administration system that enhances land tenure security and effective land records management (11).

The system that regulates land ownership and land security varies widely across regions, but it generally ascribes men the exclusive property right to land excluding women. Women have access to land mainly through the male members of the family; they might be allocated plots or cultivate their husbands’ fields (3).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography