“The Future is Surely Female: The Girls Caucus Power”
In the heart of Northern Ghana, a transformative initiative known as the CLEAR Project has been leaving a lasting impact on the lives of young females. Through the implementation of Girls' Caucuses, this ambitious project co-implemented by YEFL-GHANA has successfully empowered 240 girls from 60 communities across six districts in the Northern, North-East, Savannah, Upper East, and Upper West regions. These caucuses have become a beacon of hope, breaking gender barriers and fostering inclusive education for young girls, regardless of their backgrounds or ethnicity.
At the core of this remarkable project lies the establishment of safe spaces known as The Girls' Caucuses. In these caucuses, girls can openly and confidently discuss the myriad challenges they face in pursuing basic education.
From cultural barriers and lack of parental support to poverty, gender stereotypes, sexual harassment, teenage pregnancy, and early marriages. These girls courageously share their stories and find solace in each other's understanding and support.
"The Girls' Caucus has given me the confidence to speak up for myself and other girls who can't voice their concerns," shares Suraya, a member of the Nanumba North Girls Caucus.
This newfound self-assurance has turned Suraya into a role model for her peers, inspiring a chain reaction of empowerment and advocacy. Through these safe spaces, issues that were once overlooked are now brought to the forefront, demanding attention and action.
The Girls' Caucuses have not only empowered young females to speak up, but they have also bridged the communication gap between the girls and their parents. Radio platforms have played a pivotal role in facilitating dialogue and understanding between generations, as parents now gain insight into the challenges their daughters face in accessing quality education. This newfound awareness has led to greater family support and encouragement, further propelling girls towards their educational goals.
The impact of these Girls' Caucuses stretches far beyond the confines of their safe spaces. Safeguarding training has been provided to equip these young females with the knowledge to identify and report issues of sexual harassment and exploitation. Armed with this knowledge, the girls have become advocates against harmful practices, making their communities safer and more supportive environments for all.
One such extraordinary story comes from East Mamprusi, where Ramatu, a trained Community Journalist and leader of the Girls' Caucus, sprang into action to rescue two young ladies from early marriage. In collaboration with CHRAJ (Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice) and DOVVSU (Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit), Ramatu's radio appearances alerted her to the situation, and her prompt intervention saved these girls from an unjust fate.
"I believe these things may have happened before, but I didn't know and could not have known what to do before my training as a community journalist and a Girls' Caucus member. I feel happy that I'm able to do this in collaboration with others now."
Ramatu revealed, reflecting on her critical role in safeguarding the futures of these girls'. The Girls' Caucuses have also extended their impact to mobilize support for girls' education. Collaborating with CAMFED, the Girls' Caucus members in East Mamprusi successfully engaged with five schools, resulting in the provision of essential educational resources to 209 girls and one boy. Uniforms, school bags, books, mathematical sets, and sandals were provided, addressing some of the barriers that previously hindered girls' participation in education.
In the Tatale district, the success story of four girls who re-enrolled at Roman Catholic Junior High School in the Kpalbutabu community stands as a testament to the transformative power of the Girls' Caucuses. These girls had previously dropped out of school due to various obstacles, but empowered by the Girls' Caucus, they, along with the determined Caucus President Rosina Nasanbilab, engaged with the school authorities, parents, and assembly representatives. This collective effort led to the girls' triumphant return to the school, reigniting hope and potential in the community.
In summary, the ripple effects of the Girls' Caucuses under the CLEAR Project in Ghana have been nothing short of extraordinary. Through the creation of safe spaces and platforms for advocacy, young females have found their voices and shattered barriers that once held them back from their educational dreams. The stories of Suraya, Ramatu, and Rosina exemplify the indomitable spirit of these girls and their commitment to shaping their futures.
The CLEAR Project stands tall as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path towards inclusive education and youth empowerment. As these Girls' Caucuses continue to champion girls' rights, their impact will undoubtedly reach far beyond the present, paving the way for a brighter and more equitable future for all.
By Alhassan Abdul Ganiyu
Edited by Yakubu Hamdiatu