Repositioning the Girl Child to Lead in a Contemporary Society

Repositioning the Girl Child to Lead in a Contemporary Society

“I want to be a civil engineer,” she responded to her dad when he asked her what she wanted to become in future. “No! You cannot become an engineer. That is meant for boys. You will make a good office assistant with your organisational skills.”

The conversation kept replaying in her head as she stared at the University entry form lying on her table. Rachel had always dreamed of becoming an engineer and just when she thought the right moment had come, it immediately began to feel more like a nightmare because her dad would not let her. She was caught between a rock and a hard place.

The African society is still very rigid when it comes to issues surrounding women in leadership positions. The issue of women’s participation in the public sector needs to be given a deeper look into. For many decades now, women have been sidelined when it comes to the public and government sector because they have been labelled as “the weaker sex.” They are subjected to particular roles such as secretaries, personal assistants, receptionists, just to name a few, while the engineering and doctor titles are being attributed to the male gender.

Society has pushed its citizens into believing that the woman’s place is in the kitchen. Young girls are deprived of quality education as they are being forced into believing that education is a male gender thing. Certain tribes still practice female genital mutilation (FGM). According to the report Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Global Concern by UNICEF in 2016, more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to the practice. Why do they have to be deprived of the right to pleasure?

In some localities, parents force their girl children to stay at home and assist with household activities while the male children go to school. This is being done under the pretext of preparing the girls to be the “perfect brides.” Who exactly are they preparing these brides for? And who is preparing the boys to become the “perfect grooms?” The brains of our young girls have been wired into believing that becoming the good wife should be prioritised over getting a good education.

Institutes and Universities offering courses in the technical and engineering fields are crowded with males. A majority of political positions are gotten by the male gender predominantly because there is an unfavourable environment for women to have the opportunities to take up such positions. In an annual United Nations-sponsored report, Finland was ranked as the happiest country in the world; governed by a female Prime Minister since December 2019 with 12 out of 19 Ministers being women. Who would ever have imagined this could be possible? We can all learn a lesson from here.

Ever thought of the reason why women make better secretaries? I would argue that this is because of their ability to be very organised and keep things in check. Ever wondered how a woman can take care of five kids all by herself, do household chores and prepare food for her husband before he returns home from work and still wake up at 5am? This can be attributed to their very high level of resilience. Women need to leverage on these inherent skills and abilities. They are more talented than what society has made them to think of themselves.

Society needs to redefine its perception of the woman as the weaker sex and focus more on giving them opportunities to prove themselves rather than making assumptions and dwelling on imaginary thoughts. Children grow up practicing the values their parents instilled in them. If we bring up our kids with the right values, they will grow up with these values. We need to train them as kids to understand that they can become whatever they want to become irrespective of their gender. Parents should stop forcing their daughters into doing particular courses but rather motivate and encourage them to follow the career paths they desire.

It is the role and responsibility of civil society organisations to guide these young girls in the right direction. Emphasis should be laid on organising programmes such as talent identification, leadership that will assist in grooming them as well as identifying mentors and other organisations that can help in development of these talents. Above all, young girls should make a conscious decision of not letting society push them into thinking less of themselves.

My dear girlfriend, we all have what it takes to become what you want. The big question is “are you ready to take the first step? Are you ready to overcome all the societal hurdles and stick to your decision of being what you want to be?” If others have been able to do it, so can you.

 

About the author

Mabel is a bilingual Cameroonian and holder of a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the University of Buea. She is currently awaiting defense for her master's degree in Quality Control and Management. She has gained experience over the years as a volunteer and has worked in some local Non-Governmental Organisations in the domain of community development. She is passionate about empowering young girls.

At WACSI, she works with the Capacity Development unit as the Programme Assistant where she provides support in the facilitation of training sessions.

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Shu Mabel Lum

Mabel is a bilingual Cameroonian and holder of a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the University of Buea. She is currently awaiting defense for her master's degree in Quality Control and Management. She has gained experience over the years as a volunteer and has worked in some local Non-Governmental Organisations in the domain of community development. She is passionate about empowering young girls. At WACSI, she works with the Capacity Development unit as the Programme Assistant where she provides support in the facilitation of training sessions.

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FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 10 years progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa. She joined WACSI in November 2009 as an Advocacy Consultant. And later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer in 2010 and Head of Policy Influencing and Advocacy unit in 2015. As head, she offers strategic direction to the institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organized and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality.


Previously, Omolara served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria. She also served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa where she teamed up to design and implement two programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.