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Women’s empowerment for sustainable rural livelihoods:
Agricultural interventions are designed on certain assumptions of empowerment that do not necessarily address the livelihood constraints of the rural women they set out to support. This is a failing that might be due to the omission of women’s voices expressing their understanding of empowerment and its relation to existing gender orders. Using primary data from the Upper East and Northern Regions in Ghana, we explored women and men’s notions of the processes and outcomes of empowerment. We began by understanding the basis of women’s disempowerment and confirmed its location within agricultural production relations that granted women limited access to resources. Respondents recognised all the main dimensions of power: within, with, to and over. The restrictions of women’s empowerment to the provisioning role on condition that it did not usurp male power over women limited intervention’s ability to provide true empowerment for women. But signs of increasing transfer of women’s power within into group action and male acceptance of women’s expanding spheres of influence indicate that some grounds for true transformation in the future exists.