Biometric payment and gendered kinds in Ghana

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This paper explores how biometric payment practices in Ghana reinforce historically grown, patriarchal frames of representing women’s economic participation. As central modes of participation in social life, payment practices tie closely into national narratives of modernity and economic development. In this light, Ghana’s current biometric identification agenda, of which biometric payment constitutes a central element, has come to associate female entrepreneurs with normative gender identities which question their discipline, autonomy, and meaningful contribution to the economy. Two different institutions seeking to classify Ghanaian women in the interest of altering their behavior will be at the heart of the discussion. In the first case, I will focus on development experts’ routine representation of (Ghanaian) women as “dependent” on assistance. In the second case, I focus on the regulatory institutions of Ghana’s financial sector and the pursuit to formalize what is generally framed as “deviant” female entrepreneurship. The article addresses how the articulation of these normative gender identities reproduces historically rooted conceptions of Ghanaian women’s autonomy and economic participation, to the effect of their continued exclusion from relevant public decision-making processes. The paper finally explores the unconventional ways in which female Ghanaian entrepreneurs-turned-activists index emancipatory gender identities to seek recognition for their economic contribution.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1924486
JournalTapuya: Latine American Science, Technology and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Ghana
  • biometricidentification technologies
  • financial inclusion
  • normative gender identities
  • human kinds


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