Her Excellency, the Second Lady of Ghana, Madame Samira Bawumia in the photo with CFA students. Mrs Bawumia,wife of Vice President, Mahamudu Bawumia, was the conference keynote speaker. She spoke about the importance of education, accessible healthcare, empowerment of women, and encouraged the participation of the CFA students at the conference.
The Global Women X Business and Professional Exchange, at the Kempinski Gold Coast City Hotel, Accra, Ghana, October 4-8th 2018 provided great exposure and opportunity for learning for our students.
The event was organized by the US Ghana Chamber of Commerce. Lydia Henry, Chair of Women’s Initiatives, graciously coordinated the fundraising and planning so CFA students could participate. Ms. Henry was the students’ champion and advocated on their behalf, inviting the generous support of like-minded individuals who stepped in to finance our team of 12’s participation. Our students were able to meet the speakers and other participants and were exposed to new ideas that affected them deeply.
The experience included travel from Ho to Accra by private van, attendance at this most impactful day of meetings, a stay in a quality hotel and food to make 12 happy stomachs!
The conference emphasized social responsibility and the importance of preparing the next generation of women. Our Path to Success students, the youngest participants at the conference, engaged in discussions about their dreams and aspirations. Contacts were exchanged for continued communication.
The President of the Chamber, Florence Torson-Hart said in her speech: “to be pro-woman does not mean you are anti-man.” Our contingent, which included two young men and one male staff member, appreciated that! They understand, through experience from CFA’s model of inclusion, how such an attitude promotes greater mutual understanding and that it is a best practice towards the global drive for equity. When they heard the second lady of Ghana speak about how women are to complete each other, not to compete among themselves, they were further inspired.
The various breakout panels transformed the thoughts of our students as they reconsidered long-held beliefs and concepts about gender roles, healthcare, and technology. Edith, who wants to be a human advocate, attended a session on trauma-informed legal counsel for victims of human trafficking & sexual exploitation. This rekindled her fire to advocate for the less privileged in society. Her understanding and ability to communicate on social issues like sexual exploitation are broader and she is able to see beyond her previous beliefs and social-religious context. She expressed her ideas in a lengthy discussion on social issues during the ride back from Accra to Ho.
Technology was of great interest to several of our students. One speaker talked about how they could ‘make money while sleeping soundly!’ in the education – opportunities in IT breakout session. Our students understand and appreciate how computers are used for research and personal development, but this opened their minds to consider ideas about how it might be used to earn a living.
Joy-Jessy who wants to be a pharmacologist, learned in his Health and Wellness session, that behavior and habit contribute to the well-being of a person and it is the first method of treatment to consider when treating a patient. He now sees curative medicine not only as the consumption of chemicals or medication but also how changing a person’s lifestyle, diet and environment can change their health.
Students could relate to the life stories of the guest speakers, many of whom come from backgrounds similar to theirs. It helped them appreciate the importance of self-motivation and maintaining their focus on their dreams. They realize no matter their circumstances they must work hard and take advantage of all opportunities that come their way, including the enormous support they are receiving from the people they met at the conference and that they get each day at Center for Achievement. We are investing in them to become the change-makers that will shape their generation and the next.
As the Program Director, it was exciting to watch them express their takeaways from the program. Listening to them analyze social issues with passion and seeing their desire to achieve greater heights makes it all worth the effort and support we give.
Knowledge is a tool for change. With that in mind, our students are organizing activities for the CFA Girls Club on Career Guidance, Girls Empowerment, and Reproductive Health. Most of these sessions are to be facilitated by students who were at the conference and a few guest speakers. They will share their learning with other young girls and contextualize their learning to make changes in the socio-cultural issues that affect the girls in their communities. They hope to encourage them to become the business and professional women of tomorrow.