Cama a bold movement for change

“Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable...” The above quote from Ban Ki-moon, immediate past Secretary-General of the UN gives credence to an earlier quote by the renowned Ghanaian educationist, Dr.KwegyirAggrey, who stated,“If you educate a boy, you educate an individual, but if you educate a girl, you educatea nation.”


As the world celebrates this year’s International Women’s Day which falls on Wednesday, March 8, under the campaign theme Be Bold ForChange, attention of the world will be focused, amongst others,on Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is on the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls by 2030.


International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The campaign theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is acall on the masses and individuals to help forge a better working world - a more inclusive, gender equal world. It is a day when all are called upon to play a part in helping drive better outcomes for women.


International Women’s Day recognizes that the empowerment of and investment in women, which arecritical for economic growth, the achievement of the SDGs, including the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty, as well as the meaningful participation of women in decisions thataffect them, are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting andprotecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights.


According to the UN, empowering women and promoting gender equality is crucial for accelerating sustainable development. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas.Since 2000, the UN, its partners and the rest of the global community have made gender equality central to their work, and have seen some remarkable successes. More girls are now in school compared to 15 years ago, and most regions have reached gender parity in primary education. Women now make up to 41 percent of paid workers outside of agriculture, compared to 35 percent in 1990.


In spite of the successes that have been chalked in advancing the cause of women, a lot more needs to be done if the targets set under Goal 5 are to be achieved by 2030. For instance according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016, the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap will not close entirely until 2186. In view of this, around the world, International Women's Day provides an important opportunity for ground breaking action that can truly drive greater change for women. Bold and decisive actions need to be taken by individuals and organisationsto help progress the gender agenda because purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world.


The Cama Network – the young women’s movement for change


One movement which is sweeping the country and that is making a difference in the lives of young women and girls is Cama (Camfed Alumnae Association). Cama is a strong alumnae network of 17,786 young women who have benefitted from Camfed's support and are united by a commitment to develop themselves and invest the benefits of their education back into their communities. They support each other through this network, using it as a platform to become agents of change within their communities and beyond. The Cama network is operational in 31 districts of the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Central regions and has a chapter in the Greater Accra Region.


Cama members are united by a commitment to develop themselves and invest the benefits of their education back into their communities. To date Cama members in Ghana have supported over 40,000 children to go to school at primary and secondary levels. Cama members are also leading advocacy to break down barriers for girls and women at community, national and international levels. Aged between 19 and 22 years, Cama members Ruth Tawiah, Sandra Brew, Grace Amponsah and Charlotte Owusu-Ansah met with the British Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, The Right Honourable Boris Johnson, on his recent visit to Ghana. The young women shared with him the transformative power that is unleashed when girls are educated. Ruth adds “ours is a passion to give-back and to influence change in our communities.”


Individually, Cama members are using the power of one to make a change through community sensitization programmes in all districts of operation. Major issues on which sensitization programmes have been undertaken include health, education, sanitation and environment, financial literacy, amongst others. For instance as a Cama member and health practitioner, Fatima Yakubu has been the resource person in advocacy and community sensitization programmes on health-related issues such as teenage pregnancy, maternal mortality, Hepatitis B, epilepsy, breast cancer, malnutrition,HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases. In October 2014, Fatima initiated and spearheaded a project called “Safe Delivery: Priority for All” in her community to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality and morbidity. This initiative helped to increase the number of pregnant mothers who visited the hospital for antenatal and prenatal care.


Some Cama members have been trained as Peer Educators and are responsible for visiting schools in selected districts of operation to deliver financial literacy and entrepreneurship training to community members. For instance RukaYaro was responsible for implementing the training programmes in the Sagnarigu District in Northern Ghana. In this role, she trained over 500 young women in financial literacy who in turn trained over 10,000 community members. In 2014, she participated in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for young African Leaders in the United States in recognition of her contributions to community development.


Camfed has also implemented the My Better World (MBW) program in schools in some selected districts. The MBW is a well-being program designed for students to have a deeper understanding of themselves in order to influence the life choices and decisions they make. Some Cama members have been trained as Learner Guides to visit schools in selected districts to deliver the course modules under the MBW program.NimatuSiisu, a Cama member, has facilitated the selection and training of 90 Cama members who are serving as Learner Guides to 3600 senior high school students on the My Better World program. She has successfully initiated a yearly award scheme and the change-makers club in her community. The award scheme has supported 30 best performing students in Daboya to continue their education.


Collectively, the network also undertakes philanthropic and community service activities in their districts in support of individuals and institutions. In 2016, the Cama Chapter in the Mfantseman Municipality donated items such as rubber basins, baby cot sheets, bedspreads, kids playing items, water containers, lamps and hand towels to the children's ward of the Saltpond Municipal Hospital.They also provided 40 students in four selected basic schools with educational materials such as pencils, erasers, exercise books, rulers, school bags and pens to support their academic work.EfuaRockson, Cama member in the Mfantseman Municipality had this to say about their initiatives, “Ilearnt to give not because I have in abundance but I give because I know how it feels to have nothing".


Cama has planned a number of activities to mark the day and these include radio discussion programmes around the campaign theme, a float through the principal streets of Wa, and a forum to be held at the Wa Jubilee Park during which awards will be given to some selected Cama members who through their activism have contributed to women empowerment and community development.


As we celebrate International Women’s Day, Cama affirms its commitment to continue to be a vehicle for change in communities. Cama members will continue to advocate for the rights of young women and girls and capacitate communities to lead change. The Cama network will be developedas a foundation of support for young women, as a framework for their activism, and as a platform for their leadership. Cama’s identity will be reinforcedas an African-led young women’s movement.


Camfed works to ensure that young women and girls are capacitated and provided with the knowledge and skills to become economically-independent and be positioned to contribute meaningfully to their families and communities. Through the Financial Literacy Training, Entrepreneurship Skills Training and the Innovation Bursary Program (IBP), Camfed has positioned many young women with the requisite skills to start and run their own business and to influence change in their communities.




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