CAMFED Association member & District Assemblyperson, Ghana
Growing up as the fourth born in a family of seven in rural Karaga District, northern Ghana, life was hard for Hawa. As subsistence farmers, her parents could not afford her basic school needs. Undeterred, Hawa took herself to primary school without even a uniform or shoes. However, when it came to starting secondary school, and the introduction of school fees, her hopes of continuing in education dimmed.
Yet Hawa refused to give up. With the few resources she had, she made toffee while her mother sold shea nuts on the roadside to scrape together money to pay her school fees. Still, this was barely enough and Hawa’s mother feared her daughter wouldn’t make it. Then, while still in her first year of Senior High School, Hawa was selected for support from CAMFED. Finally, her education was assured.
As the first girl in her village to complete Senior High School, Hawa is a role model and a trailblazer for girls in her community. Seeing her work hard and succeed at school has motivated other parents to put their daughters’ education first. Today, the village even has its own primary school.
My community members say it’s because of me girls are now in school. The role I am playing in the community motivates other girls to follow in my footsteps.
Hawa joined the CAMFED Association (CAMA), after finishing senior high school and has been an active member ever since. Hawa’s Association chapter is made up of an amazing group of women who are all committed to plowing back the benefits of their education into their community. Hawa received training as a peer educator and community health activist and became the business chairperson, training others in financial literacy, entrepreneurship and other key business skills.
Hawa regularly visits her old school to sensitize girls on the importance of education, encouraging them to stay focused, study hard and pursue their goals. Together with her peers in the CAMFED Association, she meets with young women in the community and their families to talk to them about the harmful effects of teen pregnancy, early marriage and other issues which can prevent young people from fulfilling their potential.
In 2015, Hawa stood for election as an Assemblyperson in her district in order to serve her community and promote girls’ education. She received strong support and today is a hard working and much respected representative of her community. Of the 53 District Assembly members, only three are women, and two of the three are CAMFED Association members.
They elected me to become an assemblyperson because of the advocacy I was doing… [and] because they know that I would be able to bring something back to the community.
Hawa is a role model to so many in her district – showing what’s possible when girls get the education they need. Through the CAMFED Association, young women like Hawa are opening up new leadership pathways for women all across Africa.
Read the story of Hawa’s election: CAMA’s new politicians: The exception that changes the rules
Read Fiona Mavhinga’s blog: How our leaders can look to Africa for inspiration