Gender equality

I'm a 35-year-old woman, married. I’m selling plantain chips on the roadside. My husband is a contractor and therefore the main breadwinner. We have 3 children already, but my husband insists on having at least 6 more. I don't really want to have more children, but if I express that feeling my husband beats me and threatens to marry somebody else. IMG_1698

This is one of the identities, the participants of our sexual education seminar had to think themselves into. In our seminars, we always focus on Sexual Rights. The “Identity game” puts the participants in a situation where they have to identify the different ways one can be denied of his or her sexual rights, autonomously.

The women you see on the streets of Accra are loud, laugh a lot and are not afraid at all to fight with anybody, no matter man or woman. Women are important breadwinners for their families and play an essential role for the economy. They account for 80% of the subsistence economy in Ghana.

However, gender stereotypes are deeply rooted in the society and conservative structures can be found in most of the Ghanaian households: Within the ‘extended families’ women take care of the children and the typical house works, while men are typically the heads of the families and the ones making decisions. Violence against women, especially domestic violence is still an undeniably big topic in Ghana. And if we take a look at manager positions in big companies or seats in the parliament, what we see are mainly men. (Not to say that this is a typical Ghanaian Problem. Just take a look at Germany!)

In the younger generations some of these old-fashioned behaviors and ways of thinking are changing. But still, even in relationships of young people, most Ghanaian girls expect their boyfriends to buy them mobile phones and spend a lot of money on drinks and food. The guys in return don't hesitate to call or whistle at any girl walking by on the street, holding her arms firmly, even if she doesn't want it.

Closing the gap between the chances in life a man has, compared to those of a woman is one of the aims Boa Nnipa is working toward to. Through our seminars we give young Ghanaians a chance to take part in solving the root causes of problems in their society, rather the being the root cause themselves. In order to achieve this goal it is essential to create gender equality at work as well. In our last seminar we were therefore looking for two new women to team up with our two teachers Kamara and Nico.

Due to the experiences we had made with young Ghanaian women, being a bit close-lipped, uninterested and shy to talk about topics like sex, we were a bit skeptical at the beginning, whether we could really find two women who would fit our expectations. The six young women that took part in our seminar showed us that our fear was definitely

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unwarranted. Most of them were really interested, actively participating in all the discussions and games and even had some prior knowledge on the topic. Although it is hard to describe what made

the difference, I can say now that the dynamic of this seminar was different compared to the other, where we had 5 guys and only one girl participating. With Mary and Augustina we have found two great new sexual education teachers who are really motivated in doing social work and therefore committed to work for Boa Nnipa for one year. Read their motivations here.

IMG_1481The great support of Kamara and Nico, who took responsibility for some of the topics made it much easier for us and is an important step towards our goal of personal sustainability and the independent work of the Ghanaian Boa Nnipa team.

It’s been three weeks since our new teams have started teaching. With double the amount of classes they have been able to reach out to 1700 children, just in one month. In these lessons it has already shown several times how important it is for the children to have one teacher of their own sex around to ask personal question. Especially the girls, who ask a lot of questions about menstruation, like to talk to Augustina and Mary personally, because they are mostly feeling shy to ask these questions in front of the class.

In the meantime Sammy and Agyengo, our two project coordinators, are diligently working on fixing dates with the schools to fill up the teachers schedules. Beside that, they have started to do an evaluation in order to get an idea of the level of influence our teachings have on the children. The Ghanaian bureaucracy and the educational system in general have complicated matters for them, time and time again. Read about this in our next blog!

- Carla