Lifting social barriers: Women’s rights training in Ghana

Community members in Bimbagu, Ghana gather in a workshop to learn about promoting women’s rights.

Training session on ending child, early and forced marriage in Bunkpurugu Yonyoo, Ghana.

In much of the world, discrimination against women and girls keep them from attaining their basic human rights. Empowering women by improving their participation in all aspects of society is essential to a peaceful and prosperous future.

Canada has identified ending child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) as a foreign policy and development priority.

CEFM in Ghana

Statistics from the United Nations Population Fund indicate on average, one out of four girls in Ghana will be married before their 18th birthday. That same data shows that 6% of women were married before 15 years of age, while 27% got married before 18 years.

Many communities in Ghana particularly in the Northern regions experience widespread discrimination against women due to deeply entrenched traditions and customs that have been passed down through generations.

To help women in Ghana reach their full potential, the High Commission of Canada supported the Maata-N-Tudu Association’s (MTA) program against CEFM and gender based violence (GBV).

Ending gender discrimination

Through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, which provides direct funding assistance to local non-governmental organizations, MTA launched a series of training sessions to help reduce CEFM and GBV in three targeted communities in the Northern Region of Ghana: Bimbagu, Gbingbalanchet and Jimbale.

By lifting social barriers, MTA seeks to bring an end to the practice of CEFM and the cycle of violence and discrimination.  Educating community members about women’s rights was the focus of information sessions, community workshops and peer education strategies in Bimbagu, Gbingbalanchet and Jimbale.

Building community awareness

MTA’s community workshops provided the voices of change within communities by engaging all members of society – from women, girls, and community leaders, to men and boys.

Through these workshops, communities were encouraged to become part of the solution to the problems that face their women and girls. People in the communities learned about the negative effects of CEFM and the importance of women’s participation in society.

MTA workshop encourages community to address issues of domestic abuse and gender-based violence.

The peer education workshops trained several key community members on women’s rights and helped to identify and address the causes of GBV in their communities.

Teachers, students, community leaders, guidance counsellors and victims of abuse volunteered to become peer educators in order to learn about women’s rights and raise awareness throughout the community.

This strong community partnership will help generate sustainable change in Ghana’s Northern Region. The High Commission of Canada was proud to support MTA’s training sessions and looks forward to working with its partners in Ghana to further advance women’s rights throughout the region.