While significant progress has been made in improving the wellbeing of women and girls around the world, a gender gap still exists between men and women which is very evident in Ghana. Gender inequalities continue to persist in Ghana because of cultural gender norms that exalt and favor men and put women in subordinate and subservient roles. These cultural gender norms hinder women’s development and widen gender inequality between men and women in different system levels of society. Therefore, there is a need to examine the influence of these cultural gender norms on women’s lives using a systems framework to capture a full picture of women’s experiences at these systemic levels of society. In this paper, we use Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems multilevel approach to examine the impact of these cultural gender norms on women’s lives at the different system levels. We conducted a desk review of studies published in sub-Saharan Africa focused on cultural gender norms and gender inequality. The findings showed that the impact of cultural gender norms on gender inequality at the levels of the four social systems (microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem) are interconnected, creating and widening the inequality gap between men and women. Cultural gender norms influence gender role socialization in the home, which then transmits to the school and religious institutions as the mesosystem. At the school level, cultural gender norms act as a mesosystem manifest through discriminatory classroom practices, gender role assignment of school responsibilities, and gender role representations in textbooks. In Christianity and Islam, cultural gender norms create doctrines that enforce men’s domination over women, and, in the workplace, cultural gender norms have gendered labor by defining a man’s occupation and limiting women to domestic and low-paying occupations. The mass media is the exosystem that displays images of women to fit cultural gender norms of what is defined as acceptable for women. Finally, the macrosystem is the overall sociocultural norms that have been accepted by society that perpetuate discriminatory practices against women.
Nartey, Portia; Sensoy Bahar, Ozge; and Nabunya, Proscovia
"A Review of the Cultural Gender Norms Contributing to Gender Inequality in Ghana: An Ecological Systems Perspective,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 25:
7, Article 14.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol25/iss7/14