“Strong woman, strong world” – International Women’s Day from Northern Ghana

“Strong woman, strong world, strong woman, strong world.” 

These were the chants of hundreds of women who ignored the scorching sun to commemorate International Women’s Day in East Gonja in the Northern region of Ghana. The Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF Canada) through the VOICE for Women and Girls volunteer cooperation program, in partnership with the Government of Canada, supported this event. 

For the first time, women from the East Gonja Municipal, Salaga, including Salaga Farmers credit union members, the volunteer Co-operative Development Advisor, and nearby villages commemorated International Women’s Day. The energy, zeal, and commitment from women, ranging from government departments and agencies, traditional authorities, businesswomen, female artisans, trade apprentices to youth groups, was enormous and unprecedented.

A community meeting to sensitize the traditional authorities, co-operative members and the people of Kitoe Nkwanta.

Women’s voices in the district were amplified through small community meetings and through the power of radio. In two days, towns, villages and 6,000 radio listeners were engaged with the theme, “Inspire Inclusion.” Messages of economic empowerment, the elimination of domestic violence, improved collaboration between spouses in decision making as well as improved collaboration, and the protection of women from all forms of harassment, were delivered to the public. A female Member of Parliament spoke about government programs and plans to ensure inclusiveness by improving education and health infrastructure as well as removing barriers that limit women’s economic and political participation, which would safeguard social protection and equity. 

 “I want to express my appreciation for making the program a reality. I also thank you for the powerful and insightful messages sent out to the public on the International Women’s Day celebration,” the Gender Officer from the East Gonja Municipal Assembly said.  “It was one of its kind for the first time in the history of East Gonja...Once again, the Gender unit is grateful to you.” 

Most participants were happy to hear men discuss the issues facing women and encouraging their fellow men to support and protect their girls and wives. Participants were also excited to hear how these men are examples in their homes.  

In addition, women carried placards and danced through the streets, drawing attention to the public and pulling crowds to the venue where they heard solidarity messages from District Assembly members and the Ghana Education Service. The audio recording from the Member of Parliament was also played to the teeming crowd that had gathered. 

The successful event has led to further potential collaboration between CDF Canada and local community partners. One proposal has VOICE developing gender topics for discussion all year on the radio. As well, the Ghana Education Service and the Gender Office from the Municipal Assembly have asked VOICE to support Menstrual Hygiene Day.  

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