We all grew up to meet some cultural practices in our society that have existed for over a century. These included clear distinctions between the boy child and a girl child in the family, which seriously discriminated against the girl child. Thus, the mantra was that, “a woman’s place is in the kitchen”.
It was therefore the accepted norm and tradition, that as a way of training the girl child to grow to become a good wife and mother in future, she must always be with her mother in the kitchen to be taught all the rudiments of household chores.
In the process, the girl child is denied any form of formal education, while the boy child is pushed through school to the highest level that he could go.
As if that was not enough, in some communities and tribes, the girl child was also subjected to all forms of physical and psychological abuses, all in the name of tradition and culture.
Female genital mutilation and forced early marriages were seen as normal for the girl child, oblivious of the harm that these have caused the girl child even up to today, thereby preventing her from achieving her dreams and aspirations.
Indeed, it is good for the girl child to learn what she has to know to become a virtuous woman and be useful to her family and society, but that alone does not mean that she must be denied access to formal education to develop herself to even become more useful and a woman of substance.
This is why an illustrious son of this country, Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey once said, “if you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation”.
This has been proven to be true over the decades in the socio-economic and political development of the country. Women who have had access to education have grown to occupy very high and enviable positions in the country, thereby strongly asserting the fact that what a man can do, a woman can also do, and even do better in some cases.
In Ghana, we have had in our political history for instance, the first woman Speaker of Parliament of the Fourth Republic, Mrs. Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo. Other women who have risen to important positions in Ghana include the first female Chief Justice, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, and also Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo.
Mrs. Theodosia Salome Okoh, a Ghanaian stateswoman, teacher and artist who designed Ghana’s national flag in 1957 is also worth mentioning. These and many other more Ghanaian women have made it in life as a result of their exposure to formal education and development, and thus strengthen the argument the girl child must never be suppressed in any form.
We need to collectively make the conscious effort to fight against and stop all forms of discrimination against and abuse of the girl child in the name of tradition and culture.
This is not to say that we must throw away our cherished culture and traditions; but certainly, the obnoxious tradition and cultural practices must stop.
The girl child has her fundamental human rights which must be respected and accorded her unconditionally; and we all as a people must hold it as a duty of care to protect the girl child and encourage her to develop her God-given talents, and grow to become a responsible woman who would definitely contribute her quota to the overall development of Ghana.
This, we cannot fail to do, and we must not fail to do.
By Agnes Melissa Yovo | Volta Regional Correspondent