Women Traders in Ghana and the Structural Adjustment Program
Gracia Clark and Takyiwaa Manuh
Since 1984, Ghana has figured prominently as an example of wholehearted adherence to World Bank-endorsed policies aimed at changing the balance between economic sectors. Its Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) has included massive devaluation of the Ghanaian cedi, which has made it possible to increase the domestic price of export commodities, leading to expansion in production of cocoa and mineral production, restraints on wages and government expenditures, transfer of resources to sectors producing tradeables that generate or save foreign exchange, and creation of a more favorable climate for foreign investment and local private enterprises.
Women traders in the marketplace system offer a key window on this adjustment process. SAP programs rely on traders to transmit price information to small farmers and manufacturers who sell almost entirely through markets and who allocate their resources based on price signals. Effective stimulation of production also depends on the availability of producer inputs and consumer goods supplied mainly by traders. Several studies have documented the vital link traders provide between producers and consumers as well as their demographic importance (Robertson 1984, Clark 1988 and forthcoming). Sales accounted for 14.6 percent of economic activity in the 1984 Ghana Census; women traders were 89
Dr. Gracia Clark is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan with a joint appointment in the Center for Afro-American and African Studies and the Department of Anthropology. She received her doctorate from the University of Cambridge. She has worked on contract for ILO, ODA ( UK), and UNIFEM on food systems, commercial policy, and appropriate technology.
Ms. Manuh, Ghanaian, is a graduate of Wesley Girls School, Cape Coast, and has a L.L.B. degree from the University of Ghana, Legon, and a L.L.M. degree from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. She has been a Barrister and Solicitor, Supreme Court of Ghana. Currently she is a research fellow, Institute of African Studies, Legon. Her publications include Law and the Status of Women in Ghana, and she has carried out numerous international consultancies.