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Every woman and every man should be a feminist – especially if they believe that Africans should take charge of our land, its wealth, our lives and the burden of our own development” Ama Ata Aidoo

 

I was a feminist probably by the age of 10; I just didn’t know the F word.

In 2008 my colleague Sarah Mukasa told us about an inspiring meeting she attended in Freetown, Sierra Leone, with women from local communities living positively, and working on issues of HIV and AIDS. At that meeting the facilitators brought up the subject of feminism.

“Are you a feminist?” the facilitators asked.

We are the women answered. “If you are working to support women, you are a feminist. What’s the fuss?”

There were some that didn’t know what the meaning of feminism was, and so they asked, and their response was, “This is ‘boku gramma’. This is what we do and who we are – feminists.”

‘Boku gramma’ translates as ‘Big English’, ‘fancy words’, and sometimes I think the word ‘feminism’ itself is ‘boku gramma’. But then I think again, and I remember the power of words.

Words such as:

Feminist

Feminism

Feminists

Feminisms

 

I was always one of those children who asked 101 questions. Questions like:

“Mummy why do you have to cook Daddy’s food?”

In secondary school I was the student who would get into trouble for questioning a teacher in front of the whole assembly.

In my 6th form college I was the compound prefect and extremely tough (in hindsight a tad too firm) with the junior boys because I knew I needed to act extra tough to get them to obey me. In the very early days of my prefectship I had seen them gravitate to my male deputy and recognized that I needed to put a stop to it quickly.

But up until the age of 19 I hadn’t really reflected on why I had always resisted certain things – helping in the kitchen when I would rather read, obeying a teacher without questioning, allowing the junior boys to ignore my leadership.

 

And then I turned 19 and enrolled to study ‘Communications and Cultural Studies’. At the time I had no real interest in Cultural Studies. I even had no idea what that meant. You could say it was boku gramma to me. One of the modules I studied was ‘Feminist Theory’, and on our reading list was bell hook’s ‘Ain’t I a Woman’. The book blew me away, here was bell hooks explaining in very simple language things I instinctively knew. The unfairness of being asked to cook only because I was a girl, and a growing understanding of why my Mum was worried that I showed no interest in cooking. Even more mind blowing for me was how bell hooks explained the connections between different types of oppression. I had just moved to the U.K. and I had no real conception of race. I was struggling to deal with comments like “Why am I speaking to a bloody African?” when I would ask the customers who had called into the Pizza Hut delivery where I worked to spell their address because I simply couldn’t understand their accent. At the same time I was recognizing that I wasn’t oppressed on every level and in every space in exactly the same way. These issues of race and being part of an underclass that I was now grappling with in the U.K. had not been issues for me at all in my home country Ghana. I then began to think of the class issues in my home country. About the fact that growing up we had always had house helps, and so I could get away with not cooking or cleaning and hide myself away in my room to read. I began to feel a sense of responsibility. That I couldn’t have this new knowledge and do nothing about it. I could see that the world is not fair. The world is not fair on so many levels. The issues you grapple with will depend on where you are (your geographical location) and who you are (your economic and social status, sexual orientation, able bodied or physically challenged).

I began to read more. Not just academic texts by the likes of Michelle Wallace but also fiction by African women writers such as Ama Ata Aidoo and Buchi Emecheta which showed me in a language I could understand the unique challenges that African women face.

 

In this digital day and age it has become even easier for me to continue learning about feminisms. I check out the African Feminist Forum’s website. I go to OurSpaceIsLove for inspiration. I read Ms Afropolitan’s blog, and of course I encourage open and honest conversations about sexualities on my own blog inspired by my own feminist politics.

I identify as an African feminist, which simply means the issues I primarily concern myself with are those that affect my continent. I seek to address these issues holistically – to recognize that individuals do not live single-issue lives, and that all forms of discrimination must be dismantled. This in my view is what feminism is about.  I am hoping that, if you’re not already a feminist, your own ‘Aha, this is why everybody should be a feminist’ moment is fast approaching. And yes I said EVERYBODY. Men can be feminists too.

 

A selection of staff from the African Women's Development Fund at the 3rd African Feminist Forum in Dakar, Senegal. From left to right are: Rose, Sophia, Rissi, Zeytuna, Mavis and Gertrude. Photography by Nyani Quarmyne

A selection of staff from the African Women’s Development Fund at the 3rd African Feminist Forum in Dakar, Senegal. From left to right are: Rose, Sophia, Rissi, Zeytuna, Mavis and Gertrude.
Photography by Nyani Quarmyne

Professor Ama Ata Aidoo speaking at an event 'outdooring' Nneka as AWDF's Ambassador for the Arts. Photography by Bob Pixel

Professor Ama Ata Aidoo speaking at an event ‘outdooring’ Nneka as AWDF’s Ambassador for the Arts.
Photography by Bob Pixel

 

This post is part of Blu’s BelieveUme Forum, a social commentary on work-life balance in Ghana. Join the discussion at: http://blughana.wordpress.com/  #BeLieveUme or sign up here to try turbo-charged internet powered by Blu.

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This month we will bring to you a special version of our online debates. For the first time, and probably, the  last, we are putting @nas009 and @ttaaggooee on the same platform to present their cases  for and against Feminisms. In the week of the 22nd Oct, you should expect to see these two bloggers come face-to-face on an issue they have debated debated for ages. Today at 2:33pm, the two debaters are expected to submit their addresses  on the BloGh blog for you to study and understand their opinions on this matter.

  • Debaters : @nas009, @ttaaggooee
  • Date : 22nd Oct 2013
  • Topic : Feminisms
  • Hashtag : #BeLieveUme
  • Referee : @BloggingGhana

This special edition of our online debate is sponsored by Blu Telecommunications. Blu is Ghana’s premier LTE telecommunications provider which makes it possible for you to get the most out of your social, personal and community interactions by providing internet at dramatic speeds. At the heart of this vibrant, proudly Ghanaian company is the desire for all Ghanaians to make the most of each moment through the power of technology.

You can follow the hashtag #BeLieveUme for more updates on this debate.

 

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Innovation Ghana Logo (1)BloggingGhana is offering a totally awesome Blogging Competition under the Google Innovation Project and is open to bloggers in Ghana. This competition seeks to tickle the thoughts of the  blogging community on issues surrounding innovation. The prize amount for the competition is three hundred Ghana Cedi only (GHS 300) for the ultimate winner and two hundred Ghana cedis (Ghs 200) for the runner up. Continue reading to see how you can get involved and be in with a chance of earning some serious cash!

1. CONTEST PERIOD

The competition will run from today till the end of October 2013. You can send in as many posts as you want. You can write on any topic provided the title has Innovation & Ghana in it. Once you publish your post, you can send the link of the post to info@bloggingghana.org or tweet it with the hashtag #InnovationGhana. Only posts received in the BloggingGhana inbox or with the #InnovationGhana hashtag will be considered.

2. ENTRY

If you are already a registered contributor to BloggingGhana, you will have the option of entering the competition when you sign in to the site using your membership account. If you are not a registered contributor to BloggingGhana don’t worry, you can still enter by directly submit your entry via email to info@blogginghana.org. All you have to do is publish your post on your blog and send us the link and voila!…you are in.

3. WINNER SELECTION

A committee will select 3 best post based on the following  criteria

1. Number of unique comments on the post

2. Creativity

3. Relevance of post to the topic

The winner will be selected by public voting by November 8th.

4. PRIZES

Winners will be announced on BloggingGhana’s main website and all other related social media platforms. The prize will be paid as a lump sum after verification of winning status. It is a winner’s sole responsibility to redeem the prize amount after announcement. All potential winners are subject to verification at BloggingGhana’s sole discretion. No assignment, transfer or substitution of any prize is permitted. The prize is expressed in Ghanaian Cedi. By accepting a prize, winners agree that their name and likeness may be used for promotional purposes at BloggingGhana’s discretion in any and all media.

5. THE LEGAL STUFF (sorry not us, blame the law people)

BloggingGhana reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual it finds, in its sole discretion, to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Contest or the Website; to be in violation of the User Agreement of the Website; to be acting in violation of these Official Rules; to be acting in a unethical or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person, as determined by BloggingGhana at its sole discretion.

If for any reason this Contest is not capable of being conducted as planned due to infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which, in the sole opinion of BloggingGhana, corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this competition, BloggingGhana reserves the right to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest. If the Contest is terminated due to tampering or technical difficulties prior to its expiration date, notice will be posted on BloggingGhana’s website at https://www.bloggingghana.org

 This contest is part of Google Ghana’s InnovationGhana project to highlight innovation in Ghana.

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As officially announced yesterday by StarGhana, BloggingGhana was one of 21 Media organisations to benefit from Star-Ghana’s fund which seeks to promote citizen engagement. This is how you can help. We are crowd-sourcing a name for the project. Show us how creative you are. We will publish your suggestions and put it out for a final vote.

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WSA Winners Seal 2013Two Ghanaian innovations are representing the country at the 2013 World Summit Award (WSA). The two winners, Nandi Mobile, a mobile technology startup and Mobile Technology for Community Health in Ghana (MoTeCH), a technology-driven health initiative. They have been announced winners in their respective categories of e-Business and Commerce, and e-Health and Environment in this year’s World Summit Awards. Ghana becomes one of the most successful nations at the Award after receiving awards for two Ghanaian products. This  award is UN-based initiative to promote the world’s best e-content.

Nandimobile won with their Infoline product which is a mobile and web service which connects consumers and businesses in emerging markets. The service provides mobile-users the option to send messages to businesses and receive responses from the businesses through a private channel, while going around the limitation of lack of internet access. The product also offers it users the convenience of obtaining relevant business information about products and service through SMS.

MoTeCH is part of a service delivery for maternal health at Antenatal Care; it has two applications which are the Mobile-Midwife Application and the Nurse Application. Mobile Mid-Wife targets pregnant clients with educational and actionable messages tailored to their stages in pregnancy. The Nurse Application is aligned to simplified paper registers to collect clinical information. This enables easy identification of both mothers and infants and saves time collating information to generate monthly reports, alerts and reminders for clients that need care.

At a press briefing, Wednesday, 18th September, 2013, Dr.Dorothy Gordon, the Director-General of the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE) congratulated the winners and appreciated the work of these Ghanaian innovators. In her speech to the press, she disclosed that “There is no country that had more joint winners at the world summit than Ghana”.

She spoke of the WSA for driving outstanding e-content relevant  to people’s needs  and to the achievement of the MDGs, She also indicated that Ghana’s consistent high achievements in the highly competitive WSA, is an indicator of the quality of Ghanaian talent and skills as well as our rapidly  growing innovation ecosystem. She said “We are making sure that we have world class products from Ghana”

Edward Amartey-Tagoe Co-founder of Nandimobile executive expressed his team’s joy for the international recognition.  He stated that “Ghanaian tech entrepreneurs are here to build world acclaimed products that will receive international recognition”.

According to a WSA release, both Ghanaian products have one thing in common: They serve specific needs of millions of Ghanaian people and thereby fulfill the WSA’s claim for high quality local e-content which can serve as a model on a global level perfectly.

The winners will present their venture on a global stage and in front of a high class international audience. The Gala 2013, organized by the WSA team and its Sri Lanka partner organization ICTA (Information and Communication Agency) will take place in Colombo from October 23 to 26 2013.

Other Ghanaian innovations that made it to the finals include Trokxi in the e-Culture and Tourism category, Yougora in e-Inclusion and Empowerment, MyPassco in the E-learning and Education and Leti games (Leti Arts) for e-entertainment and Games, Street Development Project for e-Inclusion and Empowerment, Bedroom Diaries from Viasat 1 for Media and Journalism.

The World Summit Award

The World Summit Award (WSA) is the global follow-up initiative of the United Nations World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) organised by the International Center for New Media (ICNM), Salzburg, Austria. It partners with the key UN organisations and agencies in the framework of the UN Geneva Agenda and the Tunis Action Plan and selects and promotes the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications; to date more than 160 countries are actively involved. Through national pre-selections and contests together with a global jury process, WSA demonstrates the local diversity and rich creativity of ICT use. WSA is a global hub for everyone who values the crucial importance of local content to make today’s information society more inclusive.

The delegation of Eminent Experts of the World Summit Award has been invited to Estonia by The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. WSA delegation is hosted by the Estonian Information System’s Authority, the Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications, the Centre of Registers and Information Systems and the representative of WSA in Estonia, Mrs Katri Ristal. WSA delegation’s visit takes place in the framework of EU Structural Funds’ programme „Raising public awareness about the information society“ and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Visit us on www.wsis-award.org, facebook.com/WorldSummitAward and twitter.com/WSAoffice

By : Kofi Yeboah.

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