CAMFED Association leader, Ghana
At an early age Rosalinda decided she wasn’t going to be invisible. She promised herself that she would give a voice to marginalized girls everywhere. Now, an enthusiastic women’s empowerment advocate and public speaker, she seizes every opportunity presented through the CAMFED Association (CAMA) to share the perspective of voiceless girls and young women.
No matter the situations I find myself in, no matter how difficult it is, I keep fighting until I win.
Without this determination, Rosalinda’s story could have been very different. Born in the Northern Region of Ghana, her start in life was a difficult one. Rosalinda’s mother had been a child bride, married to a man many decades her senior. Rosalinda’s father died an old man when she was only 11 years old, leaving her and her siblings in the care of a young mother with limited opportunities, struggling to support the family.
There was no option but to send Rosalinda to live with foster parents in the Upper East Region, with the promise she could attend school. It was challenging for Rosalinda to adjust to a new family and new routine. She had to wake up at 4am to do her chores, before setting off on the one and a half hour walk to school. But her resolve never faded, and in spite of the harsh circumstances, the family tried to ensure her educational needs were met.
I was determined to stay in school. I knew that education was the only way to liberate myself.
At school, Rosalinda was eager to learn and progress, both in and out of the classroom. She was made a prefect in Senior High School, and enjoyed the leadership role despite its demands. She also represented the school at Civic Education Class competitions around Ghana, and set up various clubs, including one for aspiring television presenters with Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and a poetry society.
With CAMFED’s support through its partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, Rosalinda went on to read Law at university, determined to use her knowledge as “a weapon… to fight against any discrimination.” She became part of Central University Students’ Parliament House, and was appointed as a member of the Tribunal for the Law Students Union. Growing up she felt she never had the opportunity to air her views, and she recognizes that there are so many marginalized girls whose voices are not heard, and who keep being discriminated against.
Rosalinda also became an active member of the CAMFED Association, the network of young women leaders educated with CAMFED support. In 2017, she became a trained CAMFED Transition Guide, working to ensure girls continued to thrive after school as they sought opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship and higher education. In early 2019, Rosalinda started serving as a member of the Transition Advisory Group that supports the implementation and progress of the Transition Program at CAMFED Ghana, helping graduates on the journey to secure livelihoods.
I believe that, when you have knowledge of things, it impacts you and it empowers you.
Though passionate about social justice, Rosalinda does not limit her ambitions just to one career path. As an already flourishing advocate of women’s empowerment, she aims to further utilize international platforms, including television and radio, to highlight the issues affecting her peers.
In May 2019, Rosalinda was one of 14 CAMFED Association members who travelled to New York from 5 African countries to attend CAMFED’s 25th Anniversary Gala. In her address to supporters from around the globe, she spoke of her liberation through education:
Eventually, the fear of going beyond the ordinary died off. I realized I can be anything.
That same year, recognizing the untapped potential of many women in her rural community, Rosalinda — with support from a new Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund offered by CAMFED Ghana in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation — decided to found an agricultural enterprise. Through Nayrion Agro Ventures, she employs eight workers and collaborates with cooperative members to grow crops including peanuts and potatoes, which are processed and marketed as high quality products. The women are also in the process of setting up a pig farm. They plan to rear pigs to sell to new farmers, whom they aim to train, as well as eventually producing meat to serve at their own restaurant.
In November 2019, Rosalinda attended the Youth Agriculture Summit hosted in Brazil, where she was able to share ideas and knowledge with delegates from around the world. She is also connecting with fellow CAMFED Association members who are climate-smart Agriculture Guides. Her aim is to build a profitable business that minimizes impact on the natural environment, as well as improving food security.
CAMFED gave me my opportunity, so now I want to help others get theirs.
Rosalinda is plowing back the profits from her business into yet more opportunities for women and girls, through her own non-profit organization, the Teen Swot Foundation. It provides vocational skills training, such as textile weaving and hair braiding to young mothers, so that they can become financially independent.
With young women like Rosalinda becoming independent, influential leaders at the forefront of our movement, we are changing the status quo for women and girls for good.
Read Rosalinda’s blog: Raising my voice for justice and gender equality