Global Reach: Ghana

Year Work
Total Funds
Invested To Date

EMpower in GHANA

Ghana has experienced strong economic growth over the last decade, but despite economic progress, large inequalities remain. Ghana is a youthful country, with young people aged 10-24 making up 1/3 of the total population. These young people face significant challenges accessing economic opportunities. Because of major rural-urban disparities, many young people move to cities seeking work. More young people are expected to enter Ghana’s labour market than ever before and the pressure to migrate may increase unless employment opportunities for young people improve. [1]

Gender inequality remains a significant barrier for girls and women in Ghana, and girls face significant health challenges, including female genital mutilation, child marriage, and early childbearing.

EMpower first partnered with organizations in Ghana in 2001 and since that time, has partnered with 10 organizations in the country supporting many multi-year grants. EMpower-supported programs in Ghana concentrate on creating and improving livelihood opportunities for young people through education and formal skills training. EMpower partnerships also focus on lifting up gender dimensions related to livelihoods and integrating gender awareness training in programs.


Total population (2020): 31.1 million

Size of youth population (2020) : 5.7 million young people age 15-24, making up about 31% of the total population

More than 57% of Ghana’s population lives in urban areas and migration to cities has been steadily increasing by ~3% annually.

Economy & Environment

GDP per capita: 2202 USD (2019).

The GINI index, which measures income inequality, was 43.5 [2] in 2016 indicating high levels of inequality. Only 67% of the population is participating in the labour force. [3]

23% of Ghana’s population lives below the national poverty line and more than 30% of Ghana’s urban population lives in substandard housing (2018) [4]

Food insecurity and living standards: In 2018 51% of adults suffered from moderate or severe food insecurity. The Ghana Demographic and Health Survey shows that while more than half of Ghanaian households have a designated place for washing hands, only about one household out of every five has water or soap available at home.

INFORM Risk Index score (2020): Widely-used tool to assess the risk of humanitarian crisis and disasters, including the Hazard and Exposure subscale, which includes natural disasters like earthquakes, droughts, and floods, and human disasters like conflict. Ghana: 3.8 (Medium, stable) overall; Rank 91; Hazard and Exposure score: 2.5 (low)

Key issues that affect youth:

Gender inequality

Rank in Global Gender Gap report (2020): 107 (out of 153, where ranking closer to the bottom indicates more gender inequality in economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment). Within the region, Ghana ranks #19 of 34 countries.

Education (Quality education, SDG4)

Compulsory education lasts for 11 years in Ghana, from the age of 4-14. Despite this, more than 13% of boys are not enrolled in lower secondary school and more than 8% of girls are unenrolled (2019).

Livelihoods (Decent work and economic growth, SDG 8)

Unemployment among young people in Ghana is a pressing issue. More than 9% of 15-24 year-olds are unemployed (2020) according to official statistics, but more than 50% are underemployed.

NEET (not employed, in education or training): The number of young people not employed, in education or training (NEET) is high, at 33% for adolescent girls and 28% for boys.

Health and Wellbeing (SDG 3)

Child marriage remains an issue in Ghana, with 21% of 20-24 year-old women married by the age of 18, and 5% married before age 15. Child marriage is often followed closely by childbearing. Recent data show that 14% of adolescent girls have already begun childbearing, with significant differences between rural areas and cities. The unmet need for contraception among women aged 15-19 is significant at 38.86% (2017).

A 2016 survey found that nearly 20% of adolescent girls and young women had experienced violence in the previous year, though attitudes toward violence are getting less accepting.

Prevalence of HIV among young people 15-24 is low, at 1% for young women and .3% for young men. However, knowledge about HIV prevention among adolescents 15-19 is also low, particularly among girls, where 18% report knowledge about how to prevent HIV compared to 24.5% of adolescent boys.

While a law against female genital mutilation (FGM) has contributed to its decline, the prevalence in the country continues to be 3.8%, though its practice varies by location, with some areas in the upper west of the country having a prevalence as high as 41%. [5]






[5] Ghana Law and FGM. Thomson Reuters Foundation. 2018.

Other countries in Africa:

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