Gender mainstreaming and women's roles in development projects: A research case study from Ghana

Document Type

Journal Article


Emerald Group Publishing Ltd


School of Psychology and Social Science




Adusei-Asante, K., Hancock, P., Oliveira, M. (2015). Gender mainstreaming and women's roles in development projects: A research case study from Ghana in Advances in Gender Research, 20, 177-198. Available here.


Purpose - This chapter critiques the forceful institutionalization of gender mainstreaming into development programs. Methodology/approach - The data was generated from literature review and a research-based case study of the World Bank's Community-Based Rural Development Projects in a Ghanaian township using ethnographic research methods such as participant-observation, focus group discussion, and individual interviews. Findings - Our study found that gender mainstreaming has become popular, with the majority of international development agencies, such as The World Bank, AusAID, USAID, and the UNDP, adopting it as an overarching framework for developing and delivering their programs and services. The concept has also made its way into government policies globally over the past decade and has a strong influence on aid projects, even on gender-neutral programs. Our ethnographic research revealed that it is problematic to simply use gender mainstreaming as a policy initiative. The research case study presented showed that, in their quest to involve women in decision-making processes in rural localities, officials who implemented the CBRDP targeted women, although improving gender equality (through the process of gender mainstreaming) was not an objective of the CBRDP project per se. As a result, the project was jeopardized, some local people misconceptualized the CBRDP as a "women's empowerment initiative," leading to apathy on the part of men, some of whom resented the CBRDP by preventing their wives and daughters from participating in it, ultimately causing a negative outcome. Originality/value - We seek to alert international development organizations and practitioners that implementing gender mainstreaming programs and policies without considering local conditions and social relationships will fail to deliver the desired outcomes for the intended beneficiaries.



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