Ghana is a developing nation. As they develop economically, the country also develops socially. There have been significant social improvements over the past several years, but there is still progress to be made. As with many developing nations, Ghana is still working to achieve gender equality. One example of this is seen in the country’s education system. While there is compulsory, free primary school education in Ghana, there is a significant gap between the number of male and female students enrolled in school. This gap has become quite small in primary school students, but increases significantly through secondary school and university as more girls drop out of school for various reasons as they get older.
While there have been a number of laws put in place to help ensure legal and educational equality for women, cultural barriers still pose significant challenges for progress. The benefits to educating women are undeniable. Educating women not only empowers women and enables them to be independently successful, it also improves women’s health and entire nation’s economic standing. But these benefits are often either unknown or overlooked.
The discrepancy between male and female enrollment in schools is mostly due to long standing cultural traditions in which women take on a subservient role and are discouraged from pursing higher education or strong careers. Early marriage and teenage pregnancy also prevent many girls from getting an education. Additionally, there barriers due to poverty that prevent some girls from pursuing education, such as not having proper transportation to school or not being able to afford the costs of books, uniforms, and other necessities. All these factors combined lead to girls being discouraged from obtaining an education and pursuing careers.
So the question arises: what can we do? One of the best ways to empower women in cultures where they are traditionally seen as secondary to men is to give them the confidence to pursue their own potential. While it takes time to change entire cultural attitudes, small steps in individual communities can all add up to a huge change. Volunteer Invest’s programmes in Ghana are dedicated to seeing “local communities flourish, where each individual can reach his/her potential irrespective of their circumstances, religion, gender, or ethnicity”. Through childcare and teaching volunteer programmes, volunteers can help promote ideas of gender equality and encourage girls to perform their best and achieve their goals. Low self-esteem is a major reason more girls in Ghana do not pursue higher goals, meaning simple encouragement and support from a young age can make a huge difference in the attitudes of young girls planning their futures.
To learn more about our different programs in Ghana, click here.