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“Helping” or “Appropriating”? Gender Relations in Shea Nut Production in Northern Ghana

Kent, Rebecca
Society & natural resources 2018 v.31 no.3 pp. 367-381
Vitellaria paradoxa, commercialization, gender, income, industry, men, shea, shea nuts, surveys, women, Ghana
The potential for the development of shea industries to increase women’s incomes is the focus of a number of development interventions in rural West Africa. However, concerns have been voiced over the potential effects of increased commercialization on women’s rights over this resource. This study examines women’s participation and rights over shea production in a context of increasing commercialization in northern Ghana through a survey of 90 producers and eight oral histories. Although shea incomes are frequently described in the literature as falling under women’s control, joint spending decisions for shea income were reported by half of the married women surveyed. This does not appear to be an outcome of growing assertion of men’s rights over shea trees themselves but rather is explained, by women, largely in relation to their husbands’ involvement in nut production.