Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Meet The Women Who Are Toiling Hard To Secure The Future Of Their Children And Community

By Nana Araba Asaam, 1st year MDP student

No matter how you measure it, women and children bear the brunt of poverty. But it’s also clear that women are our greatest hope for ending it. I have long believed that if you change the life of a girl or woman, you don’t just change that individual, you change her family and then her community.” Dr. Helene Gayle, President/CEO of Care USA.

Giving out cash to women farmers at Zoosali for purchasing certified seeds
I have come back to my roots but this time to a different region and with a different purpose: to help create a world in which women are empowered to secure the future of their children and community. My first field placement is with the Regional Advisory Information and Network Systems (RAINS) in the Northern Region of Ghana. I have the opportunity to be working on the Integrated Community Empowerment (INCOME) program, funded by Canadian Feed the Children (CFTC), whose intended outcome is that children in vibrant, sustainable communities in northern Ghana have foundations to build a prosperous future. 

Since it is generally believed that women are the primary caregivers of children, the program to a large extent targets women in the rural communities to effectively address issues confronting children. The program directly supports over 1,000 school children by providing tuition fees, uniforms, learning materials and interventions to improve the learning environment. In recognition of their primary caregiver role, the program also supports women’s livelihood activities, such as crop and animal farming, and beekeeping. It also provides training for Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) among the women to boost their household income status and financial decision making capacity. 

VSLA group at Sang after distribution of share saving and profit
 The above-mentioned activities are intended to increase food security and the economic status of the women as well as enhance their participation in decision making processes, thereby putting them in a better standing to protect their children. This also ensures that women are better able to generate and use their earnings to feed their families, send their children to school and keep them there.

I have been incredibly impressed by the hard work done by most women in the Northern Region despite the many challenges they face. Besides issues of cultural and male dominance and gender inequality, the women labor under numerous daily tasks such as walking long distances to farm, collect firewood, cook, clean, get water, care for children and more. Whereas, the men only weed farm lands seasonally, and most of the days sit under trees to play board games with friends. It has become quite obvious to me that there is a long way to go toward achieving equal task distribution and gender equality in the rural communities of the Northern Region. It is however comforting to realize that the INCOME program among other intervention programs undertaken by RAINS are steps in the right direction. My hope is that with time and the ongoing economic empowerment of women, a way will be found for more equal distribution of labour at household and community levels.

Beneficiary of INCOME program proudly showing off her farm land
I have spent a lot of time in the Zoosali, Bidima, Kpachilo and Sang rural communities and walked many miles to visit farm lands and beehives of the women farmers. I must admit that I am highly impressed and inspired by their strength, selflessness, continuous persistence, hard work and resilience to lay a better foundation for the future of their children and communities. 

I am happy and grateful to be contributing to this program, learning from the RAINS team and my women friends whom I have formed beautiful relationships with. I pray and hope for the day when the children will thrive and be free from poverty and my friends will be totally empowered.

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