Negative cultural practices decline in Upper East

women-farmingSome communities in the Upper East Region  have begun abolishing certain negative cultural practices such as the widowhood rites,  Female Genital Mutilation  and  the preference for boys education to girls.

The shaving of widows’ hair,  stripping of widows naked and mixing concoctions for them to drink  as well as forcing them to marry their late husband’s brother as often termed “by election” is now becoming a thing of the past in many of the communities in the Region.

“I have abolished most of the dehumanizing cultural practices such as the widowhood rites , the Female Genital Mutilation, child and forceful marriages, domestic violence , non education of girls and non involvement of women in  decision making in my traditional area,” Naba Baba Salifu, the Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional Area, has said.

He said “I now have in my traditional council queen mothers to help me in decision making and this has brought about tremendous development. If we had started that earlier there would have been much development than this.”

The Paramount Chief explained that Action Aid Ghana (AAG), through its partner, the Regional Inter-Sectoral Gender Network, an NGO, built the capacity of the Regional House of Chiefs about three years ago.

After the capacity building programme, the House  drafted and issued a communiqué banning  certain negative cultural practices in the area and also resolved  that every chief should facilitate the  enskinement of  queen mothers  to assist their  traditional councils in the decision making.

The President of the Upper East Regional House of Chief, Naba Segri Bewong, said through the efforts of AAG and through its partners all the paramouncies including the traditional councils now have queen mothers.

“In this 21st century it would be dehumanizing to maintain certain negative cultural practices that violate fundamental human rights of people. We are happy that we are gradually moving away from such acts,” he said.

Chief of Winkongo, Naba Moses Agangzua, said the situation where widows were forcefully ejected from their late husbands’ house and denied farmlands had also become a thing of the past in his traditional area.

He said he was grateful to AAG and its partners, Widows and Orphans Movements, for carrying out a lot advocacy and sensitization programmes for the community that led to the positive change.

Unlike the past when tradition frowned upon women participating in politics things are now changing.

Through advocacy and capacity building programmes, many women are now given the opportunity by their husbands and the community to contest elections, particularly the District Assembly elections.

The Region has one woman who is a Member of Parliament for Pusiga, Madam Laadi Ayii Ayamba, two female District Chief Executives, Mrs Vivian Anafo of Nadam District and Mrs Afuic Elizabeth Jane of Builsa South District and some women assembly members.

Last month AAG sponsored the Regional Inter-Sectoral Gender Network that brought together present and past assembly women caucus from all the nine districts in the region to strategize towards the 2014 District Assembly Election.    The Programme Manager of AAG in charge of the Upper East Region, Mr James Kusi Boama, said AAG had worked in Ghana for the past 22 years starting its operations in the Bawku West in the 1990s.

Mr Boamah said  AAG had initiated several programmes and projects with its partners to help fight the violations against women and girls  and mentioned the establishment of 16 Community Based Anti-Violence Team(COMBATS)  in communities to ensure that no violence is meted out to community members particularly women and girls.

He said women who were not allowed to raise ruminants in some parts of the Upper East Region but through AAG that myth had been broken and women had been trained and given support to raise ruminants.

By Samuel Adadi Akapule

Source: GNA

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