chapter  6
23 Pages

Gender, environment and human security in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), Ghana


Since women play a pre-eminent role in the care and management of the home and its environs, the household environment can be said to be engendered. Moreover, the home and neighborhood environments are especially critical to the health, human security and well-being of children, the elderly and, among active adults, women. Adult men tend to spend more time away from home and thus face fewer of the household environmental hazards. For many women, especially those categorized as housewives or homemakers, the place where they live is also the place where they work (Muller and Plantenga, 1990: p. 14). Included in this group are the many women and men engaged in homebased production, which is very prevalent in GAMA’s largely informal economy. It is therefore of special relevance to women, children and the elderly that in many cities in low-income developing countries, such as GAMA, the most significant environmental health hazards tend to be encountered within people’s houses and neighborhoods (see also Benneh et al., 1993; Songsore and McGranahan, 1993; McGranahan and Songsore, 1994):

The immediate environmental threats for the residents of these cities are not long-term global warming, cumulative exposure to carcinogens, or even decade-long desertification but rather the life and death immediacy of malaria, respiratory illness, and diarrhea. Their threats are derived in part from household environments characterized by indoor air pollution, a bugfilled outdoors, near-the-door feces, and far-from-the-door water. There are also the dangers connected with the use of insect sprays, uncontrolled sewage, and ambient air pollution.