Education has a very important weight for the future of women in Ghana. However, there are still a lot of obstacles, both economic and social, that hinder their future and result in girls abandoning school.
The cost of education and cultural mindset
Despite school is free in Ghana, students have to pay additional costs for books, school uniforms, lunch and other supplies.
These costs are for too high for some families who cannot afford to send all their children to school. When this happens, parents will choose to enrol only their sons. They believe that an educated son will be able to provide for his family, but an educated daughter will become a mother and wife anyway, regardless of her schooling.
Socio-cultural and traditional practices perpetuate these gender roles in Ghana, where labor is clearly divided in rural communities. Sweeping, cooking, washing clothes or taking care of children are some of the tasks that correspond to girls and women. Due to the heavy burdens of domestic chores, they don’t have the chance to continue their studies and get a paid job.
Lack of infrastructures and sanitary products
Another issue facing female education is the lack of proper infrastructures and sanitation facilities at schools. Many of them are in ruins and even deprived of water and electricity.
“According to Unicef, only 23% of schools in Ghana have proper toilets.” – El País.
Because of this problem, many girls stay at home and miss important class time during their menstrual cycle. This equals as much as twenty percent of a given school year.
The lack of proper sanitation facilities is accompanied by the lack of information and the high price of basic sanitary products such as disposable menstrual pads (when they are not in short supply). In an attempt to try and stay in school, young women get to use rags, newspapers and even pieces of old mattresses.
The road towards gender equality
These are just some of the barriers to female education in Ghana. Not to mention other serious problems that still affect so many countries in Africa such as violence, harassment, or early marriage.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day this week, we want to recall the deep gender inequalities and discrimination that so many women suffer in other parts of the world.
There is still a long way towards gender equality in Ghana. We want our projects to contribute by enhancing the quality of life of these girls. We want them to have an equal access to education and to build a future free of any kind of discrimination.
Let’s keep fighting for women’s rights around the world.