Global Platform Ghana youths call for Activista Ghana

http://www.actionaid.org/activista/2015/10/global-platform-ghana-youths-call-activista-ghana

It’s a cool night in Tamale, Ghana on Wednesday 29 October 2015 and the time is 21:30hrs,  loud cheers are heard rumbling from the Global Platform Ghana, as youths scream “ We Need it! We need it” The noise increases every second and its now mixed with clapping of hands “Activista – We need it! Activista – We need it!”  as inaugural Campaign course 2015 participants drawn from West Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal) and Burundi in East Africa demand the establishment of Activista Ghana after listening to motivating presentations made by Nigeria, Senegal on fantastic work in fighting poverty and inequalities and also background information on the role of Global Platforms playing the hub for all Activistas in ActionAid Federation family.

Margaret Osei  a member of Young Urban Women project with ActionAid Ghana and also a Campaign course participant  and was joyful   to express her desire to have in  Activista in  Ghana  she exclaimed “ It is a very noble idea, as it will help us to join hands and fight oppressive norms  in communities and encourage more young women to be active in civic engagement” she continued “ I really want Activista Ghana because it will invigorate youths to be engaged in decision making, it will  provide us with a space to organize, share ideas on how to campaign and change people`s lives “

Abdulai Mohammed Shani  a Training of Trainers graduate with the Global Platform Ghana added “ Activista will be very important to us, since we do not have a vibrant and more visible  youth network in all parts of Ghana, it will make our voices  heard and make positive change in communities”

Zakaria Hasfa Yurizaa a Young Urban Women based in Tamale weighed in by saying “ We need Activista because we also want to contribute in having a  functioning young women and young men`s  movement like other countries represented here in the course and also so that my fellow youths in Ghana can create networks and participate in other regional and international programmes organized by Activista and learn new things that can help develop my country”

According to media reports, speaking at the Young Professional and Youth Coalitions (YPYC) on Friday 23 October 2015 , the Vice President of Ghana, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur said the government of Ghana has instituted structures, schemes and interventions not only to transform but also to empower youths for nation building.  Conversely the call for setting of Activista Ghana resonates well with the vice president statement as the network will augument government efforts to empower the youth and prepare them to contribute positively towards nation building.

This was a night set aside from the Campaign Course 2015 for course participants to get learn from experiences sharing by Activista members present in the training. The night was dubbed “Activista night” and was also meant to unpack what Activista is and to entice those who are interested in joining it to do so. It was explicitly explained that Activista is a global youth network involving more than 250 ActionAid partners seeking to challenge power holders, combat inequalities and end poverty within communities.  It is comprised of ActionAid country programmes, local and national youth organizations, movements and partners. It involves all youths regardless of their economic status who are keen to bring and promote social change. It targets youths from Action Aid Federation Local Rights Programmes and has mobilized thousands of volunteers in more than 25 countries.

The evening was set ablaze by exciting presentations that demonstrated the individual and collective effort of young people who have done amazing work that has brought about significant changes within communities.

First to take to the podium was Activista Senegal. Saliou Balde  from Senegal gave an inspirational testimony when he shared how he managed to stage a protest  by blocking the main road that passes by the community to demand construction of a school after he realized that children were walking over 5 kilometers  to access a nearby school.  “ After I realized that the children were suffering by walking a long distance of over 5 kilometers  to get to a nearest school, I decided to organize children and went and blocked the main road that services haulage trucks across West Africa as a way to show our pain and  suffering and also to make the government act on children`s suffering . We stopped traffic flow and caused chaos. The blockade resulted the government constructing one classroom block and now as we speak children are attending school in their school”  he narrated.

The Nigerian Activista also made mouthwatering presentation; one of their members gave an account on how they contributed in the demand of release of Chibok girls that were captured by Boko Haram militants. The representative said they have established many cell groups of Activistas in various communities in Nigeria, and are involved in tax justice campaign, and also organized inspirational workshops for youths. John Osiroko Atta a Cell Coordinator for Activista in  Benue State, Nigeria who is also a Campaign Course participant emphasized the need for Activista Ghana and said  “ Youths in Ghana must urgently  establish Activista as it will help us in West Africa to connect, build alliances around local, regional and global issues affecting  us youths”

A total of fourteen ( 14 ) young people currently taking part in the Campaign Course 2015 have signed up to  join Activista. The ActionAid Ghana family is still making in-house consultations to develop a youth network that will be a vehicle to face challenges of youth living in poverty. ActionAid Ghana´s Mission Objective 3 in the Country Strategy Paper V partly seeks to Enhance Capacity of Young People to Drive Their Development Priorities. The Key Result Area  in the objective  targets   “To mobilize and support 22 000 youth to take purposeful and sustained action as leaders in their own right to shape a more democratic nation that protects, respects, and fulfills the rights of the people living in poverty”.

By Michael Ndiweni

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

For feedback email: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

Advertisements

Girls can also grab influential Senior Prefects’ positions in Northern Ghana

http://www.actionaid.org/activista/2015/10/girls-can-also-grab-influential-senior-prefects-positions-northern-ghana

Women nowadays are becoming more influential in global politics, business and in various leadership positions; however such strides are still low in Northern Ghana.  Part of the reason why women are still few in decision making processes in the region is a result of lack of understanding of what leadership is and its importance in advancing their issues. Leadership is described by the Canvas manual as the process of influencing, motivating, and enabling individuals and groups to achieve goals.  The US Air Force defines leadership as the art of influencing and directing people in such a way that we will win their obedience, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation in achieving common objectives.

These exciting definitions have a different meaning in Northern Ghana, seemingly they mean that only men and boys have the ability to influence and motivate people. This is due to prejudices and stereotypes attached to women and girls. Conversely this has been translated into an unwritten policy to deliberately exclude women and girls. For example there is a popular belief amongst both boys and girls that Senior High School Senior Prefect position is a preserve for boys, whilst there is no government policy that buttresses such a narrative. In addition no empirical evidence available has proved that men and boys can lead better than women and girls.

As a response to these affront on women and girls rights to participate that have continued to perpetuate negative notions and beliefs, ActionAid Ghana and its partner NORSAAC have started a series of leadership and public speaking capacity building trainings targeting over 700 girls under their flagship Young Female Parliament (YFP) project in 18 senior high schools and two tertiary institutions in Northern Ghana. This initiative is a stimulant for girls to organize and confront power structures that have oppressed women and girls and violated their rights.

Explaining  the scope of  the trainings, Nancy Yeri a project officer with NORSAAC  said  “ We underscore the need  for  girls to take up Senior prefects (SP)  positions  to end the stereotype  that a Senior Prefect position  is solely for boys and proving a point that  girls can equally lead in key leadership positions at all levels”  she continued  “The trainings have increased confidence of  girls and  is bringing out their leadership potential and at the same making them deal with their fears in speaking in public”

The leadership trainings are empowering girls with leadership qualities such as making them able to shape their vision for the future, assertive, changing negative attitudes and beliefs, inspiring them to be self-motivated, encouraging them to have integrity and to be honest in their dealings. The trainings also make girls critical and creative thinkers and enhancing fairness in the way they relate with other people. The trainings also equip girls with leadership skills which are important tools that girls can use to successful win support, motivate and lead others as one Chinese say that “A leader without followers is just takin a walk”

Public speaking acquaints girls with techniques important for canvassing and winning support in the public. It introduces them to ethics in public speaking which include being dignified in conduct, integrity with the subject matter, types of public speaking that include persuasive, entertaining speaking and key elements such as developing and good messages. The public speaking coaching is anchored on the effect and intent of the speech. Girls are trained to master techniques such as avoiding disruptive gestures, making good eye contact and projecting their voices loud when speaking in public.

The series put icing on the cake by imparting girls with knowledge on how to develop winning election Manifestos to encourage them to contest elections within the schools and promote their participation in decision making processes.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Email: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

Blog: www.mdladlaspeaks.wordpress.com

Young women demand spaces in local government in Northern Ghana

http://www.actionaid.org/activista/2015/10/young-women-demand-spaces-local-government-northern-ghana

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Women in general play a key role in development and imparting them with relevant knowledge, skills and positive attitude increases their participation in local governance. This is very crucial especially in the Northern region of Ghana where women still constitute low numbers in contesting for positions decision making bodies. For example only 4% were who filed to contest for local government elections in March 2015 and only 5,7%  women filed for Unit Committees from a total of 4156 seats.  Studies have also revealed that women are the largest part of the population but their voices are not yet heard in critical decision making bodies but are sidelined to focus on unpaid care work that is burdening them than their male counterparts.

The ActionAid Ghana Global Platform has introduced Women in Governance course that seeks to improve women participation at district, regional and national levels at the same time empower and inspire  especially young women to actively participate in local decision processes, demand accountability and more gender sensitive policies, and further campaign and challenge themselves to seek elective positions.

As part of efforts to help young women demand accountability and understand local governance a local government official was invited to talk about local government in Ghana. The most exciting part of the presentation was the fact that Ghana has a decentralized system of governance that created 216 districts under the Local Government Act of 1993. The presentation also pointed that this system encourages local participation and young women can utilize opportunities provided to push for policies that address their needs and other issues that affect them. The system also transfers functions, functionaries and funds for local governments to champion the development agenda. The course challenged young women to utilize the system since it is nonpartisan and also lobby to have their interests represented in 30% seats allocated for special interests groups. The presentation also pointed the importance of understanding local government as it gives people power to demand accountability, influence the allocation of resources and understand their roles and responsibilities as citizens.

Young women participants expressed dismay that they felt allocation of resources to district assemblies was often politicized and deserving districts were not given a priority due to vested political interests by political leaders. The young women demanded fairness in the allocation of resources so that district assemblies address the need for social amenities pertinent women and girls who walk distance to access services such as healthcare.  They also challenge the local government to create more spaces and engage with women as there are most affected by poor decisions. They also demanded concrete strategies that will increase the voice of women in decision making processes and make them safe cities for women and girls.

Other challenges of the decentralized system of governance is that sometimes there is delay in disbursement of developmental funds from the central government level, poor or weak district structures to demand accountability and also influence budget allocation.