University student discusses her advocacy for Women's Empowerment in Ghana

By Halimatu Ali

Halimatu Ali is currently in her third year at the University of Development Studies in Tamale, Ghana, where she studies accounting. Prior to joining university, she attended senior high school on a scholarship from Connect To Learn.

Women have the right to the same opportunities of their male counterparts. Therefore they also have to be seen as part of the essential human resource base of every nation. Women who have increased education are more aware of opportunities for themselves. They are more self confident, open-minded and more competitive.

Educating a woman is important not only from the angle of equal opportunity between the sexes, but also for the substantial social and economic returns to female education that can be achieved by raising women's productivity and income level, producing better educated and healthier children.

Most people in Ghana and the world at large have the misconception that women are only to take care of the house and need to be trained in household activities, such as cooking, washing, etc. Therefore there is no need in educating a woman. When there is an educated woman in the community, she should be able to educate the people about the importance of girl child education and with the help of her own well being, parents will eliminate that misconception out of their minds and send their ward to school. They will also be seen as role models to the young ones.

Also, in most part of the world, women's rights are being violated and they go through dehumanizing experience such as female genital mutilation, widow wood right, early girl child marriage and other cultural practices. Better educated women can rise against and fight for the right of their fellow women by educating the people about female genital mutilation.

In some parts of Ghana widows are been forced to sleep in the same room with their deceased husband days before the burial, preventing them from eating certain foods, accusing them of being responsible for the death of their husbands and many more.

Little young girls also being given out to adults or matured men for marriage. Women who are well educated can fight for the right for these innocently abused victims (females), which together can build positive impact in the lives of people in the society.

Myself for example, I am an educated youth in my community. I do educate the people about sex education. I educate them about sexual transmitted diseases (STDs), the use of some contraceptive methods, teenage pregnancy and its consequences, the need for girl child education and its related issues. The Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) was sponsoring the program by taking us through training programs, giving us guidelines and modules and some contraceptives to be issued to interested people. We do go round primary and junior high schools, youth clubs, and women's groups to educate them. With this knowledge being impacted on society, most people are currently aware of these things and even some of the younger ones are looking up to me as their role model.

All these education benefits combine can help elevate households, communities and nations out of poverty, women rights violation among others, which together brings total development.

Though, women are able to do this when they pursue higher education, yet it’s never an easy task as they go through challenges, especially in an environment with a high population of men. They may go through sexual harassment, finding it difficult to ask for further clarification in class from their male teachers. They may also be looked down upon for studying mostly dominated male courses in class.

Women who face such challenges may end up not having the courage and the zeal to study hard and this may affect their academic performance. This is why I continue my advocacy and course of study to help make a chance in Ghana and beyond.

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