The OLA Girls Senior High School has become a beneficiary of a mentoring initiative of the Ghanaian Women in Agricultural Research and Development (GhaWARD), which is the Ghana chapter of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD).
AWARD is a career development programme that aims at encouraging more women to pursue agricultural sciences towards addressing the limited presence of gender in the field.
Mrs Matilda Dzomeku, a Senior Research Scientist at CSIR-Food Research Institute and a 2013-AWARD Fellow and a GhaWARD Alumni, selected OLA girls, her alma mater for a high school career fair.
She collaborated with members of her year group POGA ‘95 who had established themselves in the world of careers, to mentor about 100 second-year science students.
Mrs Dzomeku said although women dominated the agricultural sector, only one out of four agricultural researchers were women and, therefore, urged the students to consider the science for its numerous prospects.
“Women must embrace agricultural science. It has so many prospects and you will not get disappointed when you grow. Embrace it and do it to your maximum capacity,” she said.
Mrs Dzomeku, using interactive visual tools, encouraged the students to identify and set for themselves goals they could achieve over the decades, and also motivated them not to give up when faced with obstacles.
The students were introduced to the numerous study areas within the agricultural sciences.
Mrs Dzomeku said AWARD, which was being supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the USAID and CGIAR, is on a mission to provide a platform for GhaWARD members to empower women in the agricultural sector through mentorship to strengthen the research and leadership skills of African women.
She said it hoped to empower women to contribute more to the eradication of poverty.
Mrs Thelma Tagoe, a professional coach/mentor and entrepreneur, and who is also a member of POGA ‘95, said Senior High School remained the most important stage in education and required students to stay focused.
She advised them to set goals and to choose tertiary institutions that would best suit their careers, saying, “you are the architects of your own life”.
“You must set smart and specific goals. Your goals must be measurable, achievable and time bound. You must learn to sift out from the rubbish and focus on the specific things,” Mrs Tagoe stated.
She also asked the students to cultivate sound minds to keep the body sound and encouraged them to ignore negative opinions and focus on their careers.
The students were taught to build up confidence, and cultivate a “personal” relationship with God to be able to overcome the numerous roadblocks on their career path, which included pregnancy.
Dr. Lillian Akorfa Ohene, a senior lecturer at, School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Ghana, said family life must not prevent women from schooling, as education remained key to progress in life.
She used the occasion to introduce to the students, the various bachelor degrees being offered at the university and the entry requirements, urging them not to seek an end to their education.
“You must endeavour to continue with your education. More girls are taking over in the education world and you must aim for University education.”
Madam Gladys E. Egblewogbe, the representative of the POGA National President, commended the initiative and said women as the backbone of the economy must be mentored and drawn into skills that would enhance their contributions to the progress of society.
Madam Regina Coffie, Headmistress of the school expressed optimism over AWARD’s role in encouraging the skills of African women in agriculture, and asked the students to consider the event as a trainer of trainers as they would be granted the opportunity to impart unto other colleagues.
GhaWARD was launched in March 2017 and has a membership of 114 comprising Fellows, Mentors and Fellow Mentees.