CGIAR Gender News

Shaping a future that ensures women are at the center of the Ghana shea trade

Shea butter production process Photo: Axel Fassio/CIFOR

Women have harvested shea nuts from trees in the savanna region of northern Ghana for centuries, using the rich oils that come from the nut – also known as shea butter – for cooking and to generate income. But they face big changes that threaten their ability to sustain these benefits.

Growing conflict related to land degradation and weak conservation guidelines governing shea-growing areas are making women’s forest-based livelihoods vulnerable to competitive encroachment by men.

Observers noticed that women had concerns about the trees and their income, and set out to learn more.

To that end, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) implemented the West African Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) project between 2016 and 2019. It incorporated such mechanisms as multi-stakeholder forums and facilitated social learning to explore the potential to improve the influence of underrepresented people – particularly women – in decision-making processes affecting access to natural resources.