Special Series: Young Women and the Future World of Work in Ghana & Senegal – Part V: Recommendations

August 8, 2022
Special Series:


This article is part of the ACET Special Series on Young Women and the Future World of Work in Ghana & Senegal.
Also see: Overview | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Women and girls in Ghana and Senegal still face significant barriers in access to education and work. Such differences persist in skills acquisition, career selection, progression, and opportunities for business growth. The negative effects of gender barriers add up over a woman’s life cycle and carry forward to future generations, resulting in a generational transfer of barriers that limit young women’s opportunities.
The following policy recommendations are made to address the challenges faced by young women while positioning them to take advantage of opportunities in the new world of work.

Reduce the unequal domestic burden and improve home learning environments for girls through interventions that address socially-imposed gender roles that pose barriers to their learning outcomes.

Key priority areas for intervention:

• Use targeted awareness campaigns to sensitize parents and communities on the importance of girls’ education.
• Encourage parents to adopt a gender-equal distribution of domestic workloads between their children.
• Monitor and assess the progress of girls in schools, particularly at transition points where the risk of dropout for girls is high.
• Support pregnant girls and young mothers in school and university so they can continue their studies.
• Provide age-appropriate sexual education to girls at all levels to reduce the incidence of early pregnancy.

Modernize schools to become all-inclusive, dynamic learning centers that can train young girls and women in the technical and digital skills required for the future of work.

Key priority areas for intervention:

• Improve technical and vocational education and training (TVET) for girls and make it an attractive alternative route in the educational system.
• Encourage and guide girls in STEM programs and promote innovative training in areas such as digital sills, agro-business, and high-level management.
• Increase the number of workplace field visits and hands-on practical experiences
• Increase entrepreneurship training opportunities for girls and young women across secondary and tertiary levels through partnerships with start-ups, incubators, and training organizations.
• Promote girls in STEM in regular outreach programs, digitally or in-person across all education levels.

Provide more career guidance, mentoring, and coaching opportunities in education and the world of work. 

In education, the approach should go beyond integrating career guidance or mentorship into the curriculum and include retraining facilitators with more relevant skills and assessing the results. In the workplace, mentoring programs should be mainstreamed and move beyond skills development to help cultivate an inclusive and more innovative workplace culture.

Key priority areas for intervention:

• Include gender-sensitive career guidance in the teacher training curriculum to enable teachers to provide career guidance at critical junctures.
• Sensitize parents on opportunities in high-growth, competitive, and future-oriented careers through constant awareness programs.
• Familiarize girls and women with the most sought-after soft and hard skills through clubs and mentorship programs.
• Encourage young women to participate in national and especially local decision-making bodies so that they can engage in the same way as men in the arbitration and allocation of local productive resources such as land, inputs, financing and territorial subsidies, energy, and water.
• Encourage women to join and get involved in associations, interprofessional organizations, and federations.

Encourage stronger gender-sensitive policies and an adaptive workplace. 

At the heart of this strategy is ensuring workplaces enact and enforce sexual harassment policies and safeguards for women.

Key priority areas for intervention:

• Provide better childcare support and after-school clubs for both formal and informal workers.
• Enhance parental leave, including paternity leave, to balance childcare between men and women.
• Enact and enforce stricter rules and sanctions against sexual harassment, especially in the hospitality industry.
• Educate citizens on the harmful effects of stereotypes and the need to change cultural practices that perpetuate such beliefs.
• Enact policies that increase the representation of women in decision-making positions in the country to serve as role models for young women.
• Encourage companies to promote more gender diversity in their staff and in positions of responsibility.

Promote accessible digital training programs for formal and informal workers.

A critical aspect of this intervention is developing a comprehensive digital policy and strategy that fully integrates digital requirements into education and training systems.

Key priority areas for intervention:

• Provide digital training and solutions, especially in underserved sectors with a high concentration of women.
• Provide affordable, accessible, and remote-learning digital skills training to young women in the informal and formal sectors.
• Invest in ICT infrastructure that supports continuous online learning at affordable rates.
• Equip educational institutions with modern tools for hands-on digital education at all levels and train teachers in modern forms of pedagogy that embrace IT in all subjects.
• Equip schools in rural areas with computer labs and enhance rural internet access to bridge the rural-urban divide.

Address labor market barriers by designing and implementing appropriate interventions that create better job opportunities for young women in the formal and informal sectors. 

Key priority areas for intervention:

• Develop or enhance labor market information systems to ensure timely and accurate data on the labor market, improve career guidance, and enable more effective policy interventions.
• Collect and analyze gender-disaggregated data and use this to inform education policy.
• Forge stronger partnerships between the private sector and educational institutions through forums, job and training fairs, and workplace discovery tours.
• Strengthen financial support and make it more accessible.
• Set up continuous training systems so young women can strengthen and update their professional development skills.
• Promote access to training and remote coaching opportunities to compensate for the time constraints of young women.

Encourage entrepreneurship among young women.

Economic empowerment programs should be developed that help women develop their financial skills and build sustainable businesses.

Key priority areas for intervention:

• Decentralize support and training structures so that they are more accessible to young women in peri-urban and rural areas.
• Raise awareness and attract young women to entrepreneurship by disseminating good entrepreneurial practices and encouraging innovative start-ups.
• Make social protection systems more accessible, especially to young entrepreneurs who often operate in the informal sector, to provide them with more security to better cope with the uncertainties of the environment.
• Create incubator poles and clusters at each regional university and local women’s vocational training centers, and provide supervision, support, mentoring, and entrepreneurial coaching in business incubators for young women.

Support additional research on barriers facing young women in the world of work. 

Incentivize evidence-informed, gender-disaggregated data to guide policy formulation and inclusivity.

Key priority areas for intervention:

• More research is needed on the barriers facing young women in rural areas, from poorer households, and in vulnerable employment.
• Research on the larger group of unemployed women and those without education and training could reveal different, or additional, barriers to the world of work.
• More research is needed on the barriers and constraints young women face as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
• The lack of recent and regular data, disaggregated by sex and age, limits the visibility of the situation of young women in Africa. This is a real obstacle in any project to monitor and evaluate the working conditions and productivity of young women.

About The series

The articles in this series are based on the ACET report Barriers to Young Women’s Employment in the Future World of Work in Ghana & Senegal, prepared by an ACET team led by Edward K. Brown, ACET Senior Director of Research, Policy and Programs, and Mona Iddrisu, Head of Youth Employment and Skills. The Open Society for West Africa (OSIWA) funded this study as part of its work on government delivery of inclusive services in West Africa. For more information, access the full report and the two country case studies on Ghana and Senegal.

Download Senegal Country Report Read Senegal Country Report

Download Ghana Country Report Read Ghana Country Report

Download Fact Sheet View Fact Sheet

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