Representatives of about hundred health-sector civil society organizations, community-based organizations, and key vulnerable population networks from twenty-four English-speaking African countries, have converged in Accra, for the 3rd annual Anglophone Africa Community, Rights and Gender Platform meeting.
Organised by the Eastern Africa National Networks of AIDS Service Organizations (EANNASO) and co-hosted by Hope for Future Generations, and Non State Actors Ghana, the 5 -day conference is to promote dialogue aimed at enhancing the voice and capacity of civil society and communities to contribute to the effective functioning of their respective Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs).
Country Coordinating Mechanisms are national committees in each country that submit funding applications on behalf of the entire country to the Global Fund; an international financing organization committed to the prevention and treatment of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.The CCMs include representatives from governments, the private sector, technical partners, civil societies, faith-based organizations, and communities living with HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Ms. Olive Mumba, the Executive Director of EANNASO, organizers of the conference, said the forum is also to enhance a better understanding of the Global Fund processes and its architecture and to improve civil society and community engagement in the Global Fund’s 2018-2020 grant cycle.She expressed that the forum is to enable delegates to take stock through sharing of experiences, tools, and methodologies and promote dialogue which would inform policies and improve the programming of HIV, TB, Malaria and other health issues present in Africa.In his opening address, a member of the Ghana HIV Governing Board, Mr. Victor Ntumi, who represented the Minister for Health, Mr. Kwaku Agyemang Manu said: “it is important for CSOs to hold duty bearers accountable by complementing government efforts, and also being accountable to the constituencies they serve."
He congratulated the organizers EANNASO and its local partners, Hope for Future Generations and Non-State of Actors Ghana; a group of Ghanaian Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations in the Health sector for the initiative.Mr. Ntumi pledged support and commitment in building synergies in the African Region in the response to HIV, TB, and Malaria in the region. He was optimistic that the collaboration would yield the needed results expected.Similarly, the UNAIDS Country Director for Ghana, Mrs. Angela Trenton-Mbonde in a brief comment welcomed the delegates, noting that she was hopeful the gathering would offer participants an opportunity to learn from each other.
The first day of the forum which included several dialogue sessions and panel discussions saw delegates share experiences, tools, and methodologies from their respective home countries.Contributing to one of the discussions, Ms. Cecilia Lodonu-Senoo, the Executive Director for Hope for Future Generations and a member of Non-State of Actors Ghana, a group of Ghanaian Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations in the Health sector, bemoaned the low female representation in Civil Societies in Ghana. She is therefore encouraging more women to take up CSO roles in Ghana, and on the African continent as a whole.The conference which commenced on Monday, 23rd April, 2018 will end on 27th April, 2018.
The third edition of the National Philanthropy Forum was held at the Accra International Conference Centre on 28 – 29 March 2018 to deepen knowledge and strengthen the capacities of not-for-profit organisations and networks in Ghana to scale up their philanthropic work and impact national development. The Forum is organised annually to bring civil society, non-governmental organisations and other actors within the third sector together to engage in improving national philanthropy and network with other organisations to leverage ideas and resources to support their activities.
Mrs. Cecilia Lodonu-Senoo, the Founder and Executive Director of Hope For Future Generations made a presentation on the preparedness of civil society in Ghana towards a Ghana beyond aid and dwindling donor support. While highlighting the need for civil society to develop internal resource mobilisation strategies, she was concerned that little coordinated data exists on major development themes from all the work that civil society organisations are doing.Mrs. Lodonu-Senoo called for improved data collection, coordination and management by the responsible national entity in order to improve advocacy and track national development.
She also encouraged the public to change their perceptions about civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations. “We are contributing a lot to social change and national development”, she emphasised. The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hon. Otiko Afisah Djaba, was the Special Guest of Honour at the event. In her speech, she emphasised the role of the third sector (non-profits) to national development and indicated the ministry’s preparedness to collaborate with this sector to address social challenges.
March 2018, Accra – The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD), “Press for Progress”, reminds us to collectively demand progress on gender equality and take action towards making it a reality. As part of our collective actions to mark this year’s IWD, Hope For Future Generations (HFFG) partnered the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection to organise a series of events and activities. They included a media launch, dialogues on national media and a fundraising dinner to tackle streetism, among others.
To highlight women’s contribution to national development and the need to prioritise the gender discussions, the Executive Director of HFFG, Mrs. Cecilia Lodonu-Senoo joined the Director of the Department of Gender (Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection), Rev. Dr. Mrs. Comfort Asare Ghana TV’s Breakfast Show. HFFG ensured that the discussions on gender were extended from the studio to young people by co-organising a debate between the Labone Senior High and Accra High School on the theme “Behind every successful woman, there is a man”. The 2 hour long debate saw Labone SHS emerge as the winner.
The IWD was crowned with a march and rally at the Independence Square where the civil society platform on the Sustainable Development Goals, of which HFFG is a Convener, made a statement. The statement acknowledged national progress in achieving gender parity while highlighting inequalities that still exist in health, business, education and politics, including the under-representation of women in parliament. The platform condemned practices such as early and forced marriage, female genital cutting and the existence of witch camps, and called on all stakeholders to collectively press for progress towards achieving gender equality.
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Global Theme: ‘Time is Now: Rural and urban activists/ambassadors transforming women’s lives’
Ghana - With the upsurge of online movements for women’s rights and justice such as the #MeToo movement, it is clear that current global technological trends have become strong pillars of change contributing to a world fit for women. However, for an organisation like Hope For Future Generations (HFFG), the roots of social justice to end sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women begins from communities – both rural and urban. Our approach has therefore been a merger between rural and urban community interventions, advocacy, and interactive online tools.
The 2016 joint report on ‘Domestic Violence in Ghana: Incidence, Attitudes, Determinants and Consequences’ published by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ghana Statistical Service, Institute of Development Studies and UKAID indicates that 27.7 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men in Ghana have experienced at least one type of domestic violence in the 12 months prior to the survey. The most common form of domestic violence reported by women in the 12 months prior to the survey was economic violence (12.8 per cent), followed by social violence (11.6 per cent), psychological violence (9.3 per cent), physical violence (6.0 per cent) and sexual violence (2.5 per cent).
Recognising the high numbers of economic violence noted in the report, HFFG is implementing projects across Ghana to empower girls/women, including persons with disabilities and persons living with HIV, with information and services on their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). In mining communities, the focus is on improving Water Access, Sanitation & Hygiene and women’s economic empowerment.
HFFG has formed 47 Village Savings and Loans Associations in 15 communities in the Western Region of Ghana, through our Simavi-supported Golden Line Programme, to help women overcome decision making challenges and financial barriers that makes them prone to sexual and gender-based violence. The Associations are also used as platforms to provide capacity and knowledge building on sexual and reproductive health and rights, violence against women dialogues and livelihood skills to women. Judith Naa Deide Okine, the Ellembelle District Public Health Nurse has commended HFFG for the initiative. “There are strong linkages between these women’s health and their economic livelihoods. Unfortunately, most of them are not working but keep having children. This programme is a good balance between providing them with livelihood skills and planning their families”. The economic relevance of the project is to empower women to close the gap identified by the 2016 joint report.We have also formed Violence Against Women Watchers (VAW) groups made up of members of the VSLA, representatives from the district assemblies and male traditional leaders. The VAW group is a social network formed within rural communities to act as ‘whistle-blowers’ and contribute to protecting women from all forms of violence.
The Founder and Executive Director of HFFG, Cecilia Senoo is passionate about ensuring the continuous effectiveness of these groups. “We call on various stakeholders and development partners to collaborate with us to have similar initiatives across the country”, she noted. The Golden Line Programme is one of our many projects targeted at raising women activists and advocates within communities who use relationships that we help them build with key community stakeholders to influence change and end violence against them. The overall goal of the Programme is to work closely with communities and women in small scale mining communities in the Western Region to improve women’s status and abilities to engage in economic activities, increase their SRHR knowledge and create an environment in which communities, health workers and authorities recognise women’s health rights.
Hope for Future Generations (HFFG) is a children, youth and women-focused non-governmental organisation. Since its inception in 2001, HFFG has continuously worked to reach urban, rural and under-served communities through its interventions, with the aim of enabling members of these communities to be adequately informed and empowered to enable them take critical decisions that will improve their quality of life. HFFG seeks to provide equal opportunities in all our interventions for these target groups. To this end, HFFG has over the last 16 years, ensured gender mainstreaming and meaningful participation of women, children and young people, as well as marginalised and under-represented groups in all our programming.
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Hope For Future Generations has for the past 16 years implemented various projects to empower and improve the health, education and general well-being of thousands of women, children and young people especially in urban and under-served communities. As the organisation spends resources in doing these, there is a need to constantly review expenditure and mobilise resources for the continuation of our mission. The Board Finance Committee of HFFG therefore recently held its quarterly meeting to review the organisation’s expenditure, approve budgets and provide technical support for resource mobilisation and strengthening of HFFG’s financial system.
Ghana is the second largest producer of gold in Africa. According to a special report on African Women in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining published by the African Union and the African Minerals Development Centre, the artisanal and small-scale mining workforce has more than half of its population as women. The gender-specific social and economic barriers that women and girls face such as their limited access to decent jobs in the mines and exposure to gender and sexual abuse have a significant impact on their health and well-being. The reverse is also true; women’s opportunities to engage in economic activity and improve their status are affected by their limited access to healthcare, contraception and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education.
The Golden Line Programme
Based on the barriers mentioned above, Hope for Future Generations, a non-governmental organisation, is implementing the Golden Line in partnership with Simavi, Solidaridad and Healthy Entrepreneurs to improve the health and economic opportunities and empower women living in and around artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) communities in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal, Wassa Amenfi East, Prestea-Huni Valley and Ellembelle districts in the Western Region of Ghana.
The overall goal of the project is to work closely with communities and women to improve women’s status and abilities to engage in economic activities, increase their SRHR knowledge and create an environment in which communities, health workers and authorities recognise women’s health rights.
According to Cecilia Senoo, the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Future Generations, ‘the 5-year Golden Line Programme (GLP), funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focuses on reducing the limitations of women regarding their economic resources in order to increase their access to health services, especially those related to their SRHR’.
As part of this programme, HFFG is expected to form 75 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) in 15 communities in the project areas to help women overcome financial barriers that makes them prone to sexual and gender-based violence. The Associations would also be used as platforms to provide sexual and reproductive health education and livelihood skills to women. The concept had earlier been endorsed by traditional leaders in the project areas. VSLA groups are common modes of improving communities’ livelihoods as they promote a saving culture among beneficiaries and offer soft loans that boost the economic initiatives of its members. One of such groups formed under the Golden Line Programme is the Obaatanpa (Good Mother) VSLA group in Abreshia in the Wassa Amenfi East district.
"Barikisu Abugri: Obaatanpa Village Savings and Loans Association" 22-year old Barikisu Abugri is a mother of one and an Executive Member of the Obaatanpa VSLA group. She dropped out of school in Form One at the Junior High School Level. She is happy about the existence of the group in her community though she wished her family knew about it when she was much younger. “I dropped out of school because my family could no longer afford the costs that came with my education. If a group like this existed in my village, I am sure my mother would have ensured that I stayed in school with the small loans she would have received”, she noted. Barikisu has committed to ensure that her daughter stays in school longer than she did and she believes the VSLA will greatly support her in her quest.
Young women like Barikisu increasingly own decision-making power within their households and can make informed decisions about their health due to their growing financial strength.
The UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake will pay a working visit to Ghana on the 7 of February 2018 as part of her five country African tour. Her message is simple Put Young People First.
She will be advocating for Africa to implement the AU Roadmap for Harnessing the Demographic Dividend as it is one of the key strategies to advance economic and social development. During her visit, she would pay courtesy calls on both Minister of Youth and Sports as well as Gender, Children and Social Protection to deliberate on strategies to employ so as to implement the AU Roadmap for Harnessing the Demographic Dividend and the strategic roadmap of the President of the Republic of Ghana to enable Ghana be among the first of the African countries to fully harness a demographic dividend. She will also meet with a cross section of youth in the evening of Wednesday 7 February 2018 for exchange of philosophies.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana outlined broad strategies to be implemented at the level of the Presidency to guide the countries efforts in harnessing the demographic dividend. He termed this “Strategic Roadmap for Harnessing Demographic Dividend in Ghana” when he launched it in December 2017 and urged every sector ministry to tap into his roadmap by developing sector action plans to take full advantage of the possibilities presented by the demographic dividend. The President’s road map is built on four main pillars namely economy, education, health and good governance with each pillar projecting five key actions to be taken.
In a practical response to the spirit of the Sustainable Development goals tagline of leaving no on behind, Ms. Wickramanayake will pay a working visit to the Agbogbloshie market where she would interact with a group of female adolescent head porters (Kayayei). The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) believes that vulnerable groups including adolescent girls need special attention as Ghana stands to lose future leaders and innovators of tomorrow if any of these young peoples are left out due to current inequalities in national development.
According to the WHO, although considerable progress has been made in the fight against malaria, the burden of the disease is still very high, especially in Africa, with the region accounting for 80% of the global malaria cases in 2015. The economic impact of the disease on Africa is estimated to cost $12 billion every year. This figure factors in costs of health care, absenteeism, days lost in education, decreased productivity due to brain damage from cerebral malaria, and loss of investment and tourism.
In Ghana, malaria is still endemic in all 10 regions of the country. The recent Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS, 2014) showed that the prevalence of malaria in children age 6-59 months is high at 36 per cent as measured by RDT and 27 per cent as measured by analysis of blood smears via microscopy. In 2013, malaria accounted for around 44 per cent of all OPD attendances and 59 per cent of admissions to hospital of children less than five years of age. Eleven per cent of all deaths and 22 percent of deaths of children under the age of five years, reported through the GHS DHMIS, were as a result of malaria. Malaria continues to be a major cause of poverty and low productivity in Ghana. However, Ghana has demonstrated success in reducing the burden of malaria in the country, with a steady fall in the number of deaths attributed to malaria since 2009. Tackling malaria is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030), which includes the target: by 2030 to end epidemic of malaria and other major diseases. Investment in malaria control and elimination has proven its worth.
Charles Appiah is a 40 year old farmer and has two children living with his sister. Charles lives with his mother and maternal uncle in Abeka, a community about 12 Kilometers from Ajumako, the District Capital of the Ajumako Enyan Essiam District in the Central Region of Ghana. Until he was diagnosed of TB, Charles was very hard working as a farmer but he used all his earnings for smoking “wee” (Indian hemp), cigarettes and drinking alcohol.
Charles realised that he was coughing seriously and eventually, coughing up blood, felt very weak, lost appetite and had chest pains. Through a drama outreach educational durbar organised by Hope for Future Generations (HFFG) in his community, his mother related the signs and symptoms discussed at the educational durbar to what her son was experiencing. She therefore suspected TB and impressed upon him to visit the health center. At the nearest health center, he was referred to the district hospital where he was diagnosed of TB through a sputum test. Charles was immediately put on treatment but he defaulted and his situation deteriorated. He no longer visited the health center.
During a house to house education and screening session organised by HFFG’s trained volunteers, Charles was screened for TB and sent to the district hospital for treatment by the volunteer. He was once again put on treatment and the volunteer offered to be his treatment supporter. Through the support of the volunteer, Charles has since adhered to treatment for the past five months. He is now stronger and looking very good.
As Charles said, “I really thank HFFG and the volunteer for visiting me and sending me back to the hospital for treatment. Because I defaulted, I did not know how to go back to the hospital. I resorted to herbal medicine and my sickness became worse. I almost died. If it hadn’t been the visit by the volunteer to my house, I surely would have died. Through the education, visits and support by the volunteer, I have quit smoking and drinking and I am adhering to treatment. I am very happy that I have been brought back to life through the work of the volunteer. I want everybody to know that TB is real but it is Curable and treatment is absolutely FREE. I would want to go everywhere to spread the information to all corners of the country where people are still dying of TB."