How Gender influences Health Goals in northern Ghana
“When the husband is not present, the women will not talk to us about health issues,” says Hillary Adongo, director of the Ghanaian non-profit Restorative Seed Society (RSS), in a presentation at the International Week at HAN University yesterday.
Other issues where gender affects health goals in RSS’ projects in northern Ghana include:
💉Children are considered the women’s domain, including the immunization of children. So when the vaccination team came along at market days – a day when the women are selling their goods at the market – they found the men at home. And they would not decide on vaccination without the mother being around.
👨🏿⚕️ In Northern Ghana it is familiar to see mostly male doctors and gynaecologists. It is an extra hurdle for women to go to the doctor when they have problems around reproductive health. They tend to go only when in extreme pain.
👰🏾♀️ Child marriage of girls below 16 years old is still existing in northern Ghana, especially in families that are living in poverty. To get a few cows for the eldest daughter, means they can take care of the younger kids.
Apart from mental consequences for the girl, marrying (most of the times) and older man, it also shows that women who marry early, miss out of school, means a poorer health for the woman concerned ánd her children.
🩸 Sanitary pads are relatively expensive in Ghana, because of a high tax on it. One of the outcomes if decision-makers are mostly men, as Hillary explains. When girls do not have (reusable) sanitary pads, they usually miss days at school, every month!
And that is why RSS started to develop solutions, together with the women concerned, with whom they work. Although Hillary explains that sometimes, as an NGO alone, you cannot solve all. For example, it’s very hard to fight a child marriage that has already taken place, as it comes with high legal costs, and it’s very difficult to prove.
However, he also has some beautiful examples of how you can:
✅ Engaging the women concerned, to understand the obstacles they face, and what solutions they already see.
✅ Organising group discussions with parents and their children, to discuss sexuality themes, that normally are not an open topic to talk about at home.
✅ And keep informing and advocating for women’s rights. It’s a longer term process For instance, RSS sees that some community leaders start to think differently when it comes to child marriage. And they can have a huge influence on the decision that parents take.
Watch the entire presentation of Hillary below. Or check the project of RSS, that we fundraise for together: https://impactdirect.eu/project/businesswomen-fight-poverty/