By Gloria Anderson
As we mark International Women’s Day, it is right and duly appropriate for the world to acknowledge the role of women. Women play a pivotal role in our society. The function of women in changing the world cannot be overemphasized. Examples of such women include Yaa Asantewa from Ghana, who led a war against the British; Harriet Thubman, who freed many enslaved Africans in America and Queen Nanny from Jamaica, who led enslaved Africans to revolt against the British.
In education and politics, we have women like Maya Angelo and our own Efua Sunderland, whose impact on our society continues to illuminate our paths for generations to come. There are many great women who have changed the world by raising great leaders. As we light the candle for women today, there is the need to ensure that the enormous challenges faced by women are addressed urgently to give women the peace and strength to play their role in our social development. These include domestic violence which is widespread, the wide range of abuse suffered at the hands of a loved one or within the family setting.
Typically, victims of domestic violence experience physical abuse, emotional/ psychological, sexual, economic, and social abuse. A nationwide study on Domestic Violence in Ghana in 2016 revealed that 1 out of 3 women in Ghana would suffer abuse at the hands of their intimate partner. Statistics at the Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service reveal that women continue to be victims of intimate partner abuse. An alarming situation emerged in Ghana last year, where more than 25 women were killed by their partners between January and August. The brutal murder of these women call for immediate action by the state and key stakeholders to ensure that women are protected.
The lack of jobs and access to basic amenities like housing make women vulnerable at the hands of their abusers. Government must provide shelters for victims of domestic violence while giving them emotional and psychological support to overcome the trauma. Education as a strategy will help make them independent and expose them to the structures they need to address or prevent domestic violence. Education should, therefore, be made easily accessible for women’s empowerment. One of the ways that education can address domestic violence is to change mindsets and toxic narratives about expectations of women and men in society.
Much work needs to be done on the boys, and adopt socialization processes that empower men to see women as their partners, fellow human beings, and nothing less. Individuals, NGOs, and institutions must sensitize the public on the need to protect women and not to harm them. When women are given the needed love and care, they will carry the nation on their shoulders to the promised land. Happy International Women’s Day.