Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fighting On

By: Megan Laird
Produced & Edited By: Andrew Davis

© Courtesy of Radio Canada International

Women in Ghana were not permitted to vote until 1954. In addition, as of 2010, only 65.3% of women over the age of 15 in Ghana could read and write.

Dr. Jim Weiler is a senior lecturer and the acting Head of Department for History Education at the University of Education, Winneba. He gave his opinion on the rights of women in Ghana today.

Women are still expected to be the ones who take care of the homes - men are not supposed to enter the kitchen - even in households where women have careers.”

These traditional mindsets about the role of a woman leads to women in Ghana who not only work jobs, but also are expected to raise a family and keep a house, entirely on their own. It makes being successful in school or in a field of work even more challenging.

Sandra Bamfo is an economics major at the University of Ghana, who discussed equality, or lack thereof, in Ghana.

“By law women have equal rights as men in Ghana. However, in a very suppressed way, in rural areas the rights of women are infringed upon. In Africa traditions counter the power of the law. This causes variations in how rights of women are respected across African countries in my view.”

Tradition and mindsets of the past, particularly those of men, run the country of Ghana. For example, in 2012, only 8.3% of women participated in politics, according to an article posted by The Foundation For Security & Development In AfricaFrederick Kponyo, a resident of Ghana, commented on the troubles Ghanaian women face.

“…Formerly in Ghana, women were subjected to doing house chores and not doing anything better than that… This problem stills has an impact in the society of Ghana. Women are undermined when it comes to job opportunities since they are seen to be fragile and too emotional…”

© Courtesy of Wikipedia

Working for Women

Women’s rights organizations have been fighting for years in Ghana, and women have increased their numbers in the government, even if those numbers are still dismal. Michael Tawiah is a foreign exchange student at Ohio University from Ghana, and he has a slightly more optimistic opinion on the political involvement of women.

Ghana has shown significant change in its view of women in the past years; it has even started to show in politics despite a great deal of occupational prejudice. We now have our first female speaker of parliament, its first ever-female chief justice, a handful of MP's (member of Parliament), some top female TV presenters and some top female corporate executives....”

To look at the facts Tawiah stated and make the claim that women are more involved and more equal to men than they were in 1954 is true, however, there is still much to be done.

Women’s rights and activist groups are extremely common and vocal in Ghana. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, The Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), and the Rural Action Alliance Programme (RAAP) are only a few of the many organizations fighting for women. Opinions about the effectiveness of these organizations varied. Frederick Kponyo views The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection as effective.

“Groups such as The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection are very effective. They serve as a mouthpiece for women in several ways since they have the resources and power to attack or address any problem women face... Sometimes they stand in for women who do not have the courage and power to come out to defend their rights.”

However, others believe that these organizations are low in their level of effectiveness. Michael Tawiah believes corruption can be blamed for ineffectiveness.

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection doesn’t utilize the budget its allocated, not for lack of a sizable budget but due to corruption, most of the supplies that make it to the people that need them are mostly donations. Even then, most of it doesn’t make it.”

In countries that have historically been plagued with political issues, corruption may have an impact in the effectiveness of organizations that promote social welfare.
© Courtesy of A Ban Against Neglect Facebook
Women in Ghana have made some strides however, in the fight for equality. Activist groups are large in number and impact, and work to empower women in many different ways. They fight to raise awareness about domestic abuse, and the importance of education for girls. The changes that have occurred in Ghana can be credited in part to the work of these organizations. Women have grown increasingly vocal in recent years about being equal to men.

Doris Darkwah is the Programs Coordinator for A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN), which is a non-profit organization that works to empower young women in Ghana by creating products made out of recycled plastic that litters the streets of Accra. You can browse their website for handmade bags, wallets, and jewelry.

Darkwah stated, “As an organization, what we are seeking to do is to empower women economically, a model we believe will end the cycle of poverty in Ghana.”
© Courtesy of A Ban Against Neglect
What stands out with groups such as ABAN are the unique ways they work to empower women. The products ABAN sells are a perfect example of the creativity and dedication to their cause, and the work they have done to help women. Young women and children are often forced by poverty into begging stealing and even prostitution. 

Making bags and jewelry to raise awareness may not entirely solve the inequality in Ghana. 

However, the work done by these kind of organizations it definitely a start in the right direction.
Groups such as ABAN can give women in Ghana hope for more equality moving forward. Hope for a brighter future, where their daughters have just as many rights as their sons, and they do not have to live in fear of speaking their mind. For Ghana, the wall of inequality has begun to come down. It is up to the women and organizations to destroy it for good.

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