On this fifth annual International Day of the Girl, hundreds of girls in 36 Girls’ Clubs in and around Kumasi, Ghana, spoke out for girls’ rights. The Clubs commemorated this special day with a variety of activities, from marches to outreach campaigns to community clean-ups. The Girls’ Clubs were established by Women’s Health to Wealth (WHW) and WomenStrong International to help keep girls in school, educate them about their sexual reproductive health and rights, and empower them to be leaders in their communities and beyond.
Several Girls’ Clubs carried out marches through the streets, holding handmade signs that call for girls’ rights. Teen pregnancy is big challenge in many of these communities and frequently leads to girls dropping out of school. At Penteng and Piase Junior High Schools, girls marched for their right to an education, saying no to early sex and child marriage.
At Kuntanase Junior High School, girls cleaned up the yard outside the local police station. Girls in WHW’s Girls’ Clubs are able to earn “Social Capital Credits” by doing things that are good for them and the community, such as picking up trash, planting trees or gardens and attending school regularly. Girls can then trade in these credits for sanitary hygiene products, school uniforms, school supplies and more. After their community clean-up, the Kuntanase Girls’ Club unwound with a fierce game of soccer!
Girls at Krobo Junior High spoke about the importance of education to their entire school, a body of nearly 100 students. Priscilla, 15, spoke of three areas where girls and women can make a difference: in community cleanliness, parenting and helping to support their relatives. Gabriella set her sights wider: she told her classmates that girls are vital to the development of Ghana, and to be a part of that development, girls must have an education, their health, and peace. Emanuela followed, exuding leadership qualities as she exhorted her classmates to show the self-discipline and excellence she insisted all good leaders must possess. All three young women spoke with confidence, courage and precisely the self-discipline and excellence Emanuela had argued for!
Women’s Health to Wealth and WomenStrong International have doubled the number of Girls’ Clubs over the last 18 months, in response to repeated requests by District school officials who have witnessed the clear transformation in the maturity, sense of responsibility and compassion exhibited by the Girls’ Club girls. Year after year, Girls’ Day in and around Ghana’s second largest city has been not only a day to highlight the importance of girls’ education and rights, but a day for an increasing number of thoughtful, hope-filled girls to shine.