As the Ghana elections get closer, we thought it would be great to hear from one of our fabulous, smart and beautiful friends of WCA Ms. Jemila Abdulai. Jemila is a woman who is definitely changing Africa. Amongst her many hats she wears, Jemila is a attaining her Masters in International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, Owns and operates a very highly read blog titled Circumspecte which focuses on various issues in Africa, and of course is part of the Ghana Decides team working to help engage youth in Ghana to get involved and vote pre and during elections. We hope you enjoy and learn about Ghana's elections and women, and be inspired the way we were with Ms. Abdulai. Enjoy!
Like its predecessors, this election is important for young Ghanaian women. The obvious reason is that women form the majority of Ghanaian society and being excluded from the political process could result in policies and programs that do not take their unique concerns into consideration. Besides that, the 2012 election is important for young Ghanaian women because it presents an opportunity for transforming an entire generation’s political involvement.
My name is Jemila Abdulai and I’m from Tamale, the capital of Ghana’s northern region. I attended Wesley Girls High School in Cape Coast, and obtained my bachelor’s degree at Mount Holyoke College. My time at both institutions made me cognizant of gender issues; because it has to do with their being all-women institutions. I am currently a second-year graduate student at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC, where I focus on African development.
I believe in Ghana and Africa’s future, and recognize that much of that future will be decided by us, the youth. I also believe in the power of innovative networks and thinking. One of such networks is BloggingGhana - an association of bloggers in Ghana - and its non-partisan election project Ghana Decides. Since March 2012, Ghana Decides has undertaken numerous activities in its bid to foster a better-informed electorate for the upcoming December 7 elections. In addition to debates on issues like education, poverty, employment, and women via Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube the organization has helped provide a platform for young Ghanaians to share their views and engage with political leaders. Through campaigns #iRegistered, Ghana Decides Tag, and Speak Ghana, youth political participation is quickly becoming the coolest thing in town.
For the first time in Ghana’s history, Ghanaian youth are actively participating in the political process through social media. A new space has been created for young Ghanaian women to air their views on issues like reproductive health and political leadership on their own terms. This will go a long way in inspiring confidence in young women who could ultimately end up in Ghana’s political sphere. Another first in this election is the number of female vice-presidential candidates. Indeed, it’s the first time Ghana has ever had a vice-presidential candidate, much more two. While it’s yet to be seen whether either will actually get into power, a strong message is being sent to young Ghanaian women: there is a space (and need) for you in the political realm. Finally, with former first lady Nana Konadu’s attempt at becoming a presidential candidate, the dice has been cast and the debate about whether Ghana is ready to have a female president has been launched.
In the long term, all of these serve to re-socialize young Ghanaian women and youth on being politically involved and contributing to Ghana’s development. In the interim, more young women are owning their stories and sharing their thoughts. If young women’s participation so far in Ghana Decides’ Our Vote, Our Voice Campaign is any indication, you can be sure that those who are registered will turn up at the polls to exercise their vote; for woman and country.