Women and girls face deep rooted obstacles that impede their growth and development and this hinder them from achieving their potentials in life.
Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) manifests itself in all aspects of social life and impedes economic growth and progress of women and girls.
In fact, not only does Female Genital Mutilation, child and forced marriage, torture, psychological abuse, sexual exploitation, rape, defilement and domestic servitude persist in the Ghanaian society, but affect the general well-being of womanhood.
These harmful practices occur almost every day, degrade lives and violate the fundamental human rights of women and girls.
Role of COPIO
Thanks to the Centre of Posterity Interest Organisation (COPIO), an alliance of rural community women and non-governmental organisation (NGO), which sought funding from Global Affairs Canada and Plan International Ghana, NGOs to implement a project that empowers women and girls and make their voice heard towards curbing SGBV.
Gender Transformative Project
The three-year Gender Transformative Project (GTP) under the Women Voice and Leadership (WVL) Ghana seeks to create access to social and economic opportunities among women by empowering them in various leadership and socio-economic activities in the Bono East Region.
Its overall goal is to empower women to get access to leadership roles and viable economic ventures towards reducing gender inequality and equity for job creation and poverty reduction.
Specifically, the project aims to advocate gender-sensitive and equity at work places and education, women inclusion in decision-making.
Project implementing District
Also, the project which seeks to empower women economically, by providing training for them in agribusinesses in mushroom production and ginger farming, and vocational and entrepreneurship skills is being implemented in Techiman South and Nkoranza South Municipalities and Nkoranza North District of the Bono East Region.
It will increase women access to farmlands, business and financial services (loan facilities) by creating linkages to microfinance institutions to expand their enterprises and ensure economic freedom to prevent harassment and violence and violation of women and girls’ rights in domestic settings.
In all, the project is designed to impact 20 local communities spread across its implementing district and municipalities and will directly benefit 6000 women, 416 girls, 150 women with disabilities and 200 young men.
It targets women smallholder farmers, petty traders, head potters and people with forms of disabilities.
Project implementing partners
COPIO is implementing the project in collaboration with the Bono East Regional Coordinating Council, Techiman Municipal South and Nkoranza South Municipal Assemblies and Nkoranza North District Assembly.
To achieve realistic and desirable outcomes, the project will also partner relevant state institution such as the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
Others include; the Girl Child Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service (GES), the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), and Traditional Authorities and community and opinion leaders.
According to Mr. Mustapha Maison Yeboah, the Executive Director of COPIO, majority of women in the Bono East Region are petty traders, head potters and small-scale farmers who lack access to loans, farmlands and the required skills and capital to engage in viable economic activities.
He observed the disadvantaged status of rural women and the prevalence of gender stereotypes limited women’s access to power, decision-making and resources, thereby contributing to SGBV and worst forms of human rights abuses mostly among women and girls in the region.
Despite the affirmative actions over the years, SGBV and gender inequalities still persisted in local communities and efforts by civil society organisations and actors have not been sufficient to mitigate the predominant challenges facing rural women and girls.
He expressed gratitude to Plan Ghana and Global Affairs Canada for their continuous support and commitment towards helping to empower women and fighting SGBV and gender inequality in the country.
Already, Mr. Yeboah explained the project had held employable skills training workshops on Mushroom Production for 2,000 women and girls and also held capacity building training workshops on vocational and entrepreneurship skills for 2000 women in income generating activity.
They are currently engaged in production of fresh yoghurt preparation, soap making and manufacturing of local sandals.
He said the beneficiaries had also been assisted to form women cooperatives and linked to access financial support from microfinance institutions to set up and expand their economic activities.
In addition to the support, Mr. Yeboah said the two NGOs also provided funding to his outfit to implement a six-month Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) response project concurrently with the GTP project to provide accurate information and stem the spread of the pandemic among vulnerable women in the communities.
The COVID-19 response project, he explained, sought to empower vulnerable women and girls and supplied them with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for themselves and their immediate families.
Mr. Yeboah noted the presence of COVID-19 pandemic had further placed restrictions on petty traders and market women in the region, thereby slowing down and affecting their economic activities.
“The information on COVID-19 and its safety protocols, as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is limited among vulnerable women in the region.
Most people in the Region have different perceptions about the virus, hence the minimal adherence to the safety protocols”, he said.
So far, Mr. Yeboah added the project had procured and distributed PPE such as 100 veronica buckets, 1,500 reusable face masks, 100 bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, 100 bottles of liquid soaps and 500 packs of tissue to vulnerable women.