This year’s United Nations International Women’s Day theme is ‘I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights’
As the global community takes stock of progress for women’s rights and reaching the five-year milestone towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, there has been some progress, but there is still a long way to go to ensure we are building an equal future.
Ghana has a Gender Inequality Index value of 0.541, ranking it 133 out of 162 countries in the 2018 Human Development Index. Just 13% of parliamentary seats are held by women, and only 56% of adult women have reached at least a secondary level of education compared to 71% of adult men.
Whilst there is no significant gender disparity in terms of kindergarten school enrollment, these children are likely to face issues of gender inequality as they grow up. It is therefore crucial that the issue of gender stereotypes begins to be addressed in children’s early years education as it is in this developmental period that stereotypes are formed and become set.
At Sabre we are working hard to support Ghana to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. The empowerment of girls and challenging gender stereotypes is embedded in the pedagogy that we deliver.
Here are just some of the ways that our team and the teachers and head teachers that we work with are taking action to build an equal future.
Josphine Frimpong, Sabre’s Organisation Development Manager, explains how she works to ensure equality at Sabre:
“I have had the opportunity to achieve my expectations in life through the support of my guardians, teachers and my colleagues in different organisations that I have worked with. I have become successful in my career because I was given an opportunity to shine and I am truly shining. I would love to support all women to also achieve their dreams and as Sabre’s Organisation Development Manager I endeavor to ensure the following in my organisation:
That women employees have equal access to information and logistics that will drive optimum performance.
That women employees are included in all levels of leadership and decision making.
That their voices and opinions will be heard at all times, during discussions at departmental as well as senior level.
Employment opportunities will be open to all genders, not limited to only males or females.
That women and girls will be empowered through education and widening their knowledge on their rights and to take advantage of opportunities.
That I will continue to support Sabre Education to deliver quality teacher training to both males and females as well as deliver play based learning to all kindergartens in the country. As we empower the teachers and the students, I believe the platform is set for Ghanaian girl’s to access education from the foundation through to tertiary level.”
Rukayatu Adam, Sabre’s Training Manager, explains how gender equality is addressed in our teacher training:
“We make a conscious effort to address the issue of gender equality in our teacher training programme through modelling of behaviour, language and methodology. We encourage gender balance in our classrooms where teachers arrange the children in mixed gender groups. Teachers are required to set up classroom activity centres, including Home, Hairdressing, and Construction Centres, which are used equally by boys and girls and break down gender stereotypes. Children choose their own seating for ‘big circle’ activities which creates a more equal involvement for a whole-class activity. Classroom management is based on positive principles and consequences without shaming or physical retribution equally to boys and girls.”
Ampim Darko Boafo, Head Teacher at Ntoaso S.D.A Basic School explains how he works to break down gender stereotypes at home and at school:
“I grew up in a setting where male children were given tasks appropriate for them while the females were resigned to domestic chores. My parents objected to that kind of upbringing. They helped me learn how to undertake domestic duties to support my female siblings. Today, that training has helped me to the extent that, I do not wait for my wife to cook my food or clean my environment. I do that myself. It is the same training I am passing on to my own children, I have four girls and one boy. So, my boy performs more domestic tasks even though there are female children. I apply that same discipline in my school as a head teacher, even among my staff.”
Dzifa Ama Tay-Agboz, Teacher at Nsawam A.M.E Zion Basic School, uses what she has learnt in the teacher training to support a gender-neutral classroom environment:
“In my classroom I ensure that children play together at all centres. Females have access to the construction centre along with their male counterparts to build anything of their choice. The male children also play at the shopping, market and hair dressing centres. This equal opportunity provides a gender-neutral environment and I am optimistic it will be a tool that promotes gender equality as the world evolves.”
Felicia Ayisi, Teacher at Ntoaso S.D.A Basic School, reflects on her experiences:
“Growing up I realised that girls were not considered for good academic prowess. I watched some of my female colleagues drop out of school because they felt it more important to attract good men to marry them and once that is achieved, it sufficed. Some of us faced challenges because we know that we do not need such serious academic work like our male counterparts. But now, having gotten the opportunity as a teacher, I am building the future of these young learners to be determined to achieve greater heights in life and believing in themselves that they have the same capacity as the boys and that is why my colleagues and I have created, an enabling environment for them to play together and learn about themselves together. This way, they are better positioned to develop alongside their male counterparts.”
What action will you take to build an equal future?
For some ideas of actions you can take in your day-to-day lives to make an impact on Generation Equality visit https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/2/compilation-small-actions-big-impact-for-generation-equality
Please note: The campaign “Generation Equality – Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future” is facilitated by UN Women in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. See http://www.unwomen.org/en/get-involved/beijing-plus-25