The University of Ghana and York University have partnered in an IDRC Women RISE initiative supporting action-oriented and gender-transformative research on how women's health and their work intersect and interact in the context of preparedness, response and recovery from COVID-19.
Women RISE is aligned with priority 3.5 of the United Nations Research Roadmap for COVID-19 Recovery on how recent economic changes disproportionately impacted women and how recovery strategies can be inclusive and gender-transformative. While the pandemic has deepened pre-existing inequalities and risks rolling back global gains in gender equality, research, like that supported by Women RISE, will help better understand the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women.
One of the 23 projects supported by IDRC is Examining the Socio-economic and Health Vulnerabilities of Female Bushmeat Traders in the Context of COVID-19 in Ghana with lead Ghanian project investigator (PI) Prof. Yaa Ntiamoa Baidu from the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation Research (CBCR), University of Ghana, with decision-maker PI, Dr. Emmanuel Ankrah Odame, and Canadian co-investigator Prof. Joseph Mensah from York's Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change.
The project aims to examine the interrelated factors that determine women’s livelihood challenges and opportunities in the context of COVID-19. The project will draw on the case of women bushmeat traders in Ghana involving both qualitative and quantitative data collection instruments and the participation of key stakeholders in Ghana’s bushmeat trade.
In Ghana, women faced serious socio-economic and health barriers prior to COVID-19, and there are clear indications that the pandemic has affected women more than men, especially those working in the informal sector. Indeed, women form the greatest portion of the informal sector in Ghana, where they sell various commodities, including bushmeat. And even though bushmeat trading has long been a major livelihood activity for women, there is a dearth of knowledge on the health hazards of the trade, including women’s exposure to zoonotic diseases.
“We should invest in wild animal production given the socio-economic benefits such a venture could bring to the people, especially women doing business in the bushmeat trade,” Prof. Ntiamoa Baidu notes.
“Of course, the virus itself does not discriminate. However, patriarchy and other pre-existing structural inequalities ensure that it ends up discriminating and, thus, creating differentiated health risk to the detriment of women and other disadvantaged populations,” adds Prof. Mensah.
The project is expected to result in an improved understanding of an insufficiently known livelihood activity for women; an increased awareness of the issues among stakeholders and policymakers; mobilization of efforts and resources to enhance the well-being of women; participating in the bushmeat trade particularly and to promote gender and health equity in Ghana generally. It will also draw lessons from the study to provide input into the country’s COVID-19 recovery programme and provide training and material interventions to improve bushmeat processing and selling sites – all with the goal of advancing the wellbeing of women in the bushmeat trade.