In trying to navigate these treacherous waters of life, we might get stuck or get lost. To find our way out, we do need the help of someone who has been in a similar situation, to draw on his or her experience and build on it. This is what the Girls Education Initiative of Ghana (GEIG) offered to 13 lucky girls on Saturday March 7, 2015.
As part of the organization’s Leadership Development and Mentorship program, the inaugural Women Who Inspire Us speaker and workshop series was held at the Students Representative Council building on the University of Ghana, Legon campus. The event was aimed at inspiring and empowering young girls in junior high school with tools for success throughout their education (and careers) and placing them in a mentorship program. The keynote speaker for the event was Daphne Lariba Nabila, Executive Director of the Legal Resources Centre in Ghana. The event was also planned in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2015.
GEIG Founder and Executive-Director Elizabeth Akua-Nyarko Patterson set the ball rolling by introducing the workshop and outlining the purpose. Hamdalatu Mustapha, one of 13 girls under their care went on to introduce the guest speaker. Daphne Lariba Nabila narrated the events of her life that culminated in her leading Ghana’s Legal Resource Centre. She spoke of how she grew up on the University of Ghana campus and later went on to Mfanstiman Girls School in Mankesim for high school. While pursuing a science program, Ms. Nabila failed her exams and had to switch to the social sciences, which eventually found her with a university degree in law from her childhood home, the University of Ghana. Thereafter, she joined the Legal Resource Centre as an intern and has since risen to the position of Executive Director.
After sharing her background with the audience, the guest speaker proceeded to share inspirational tokens, which she aptly described as nuggets, with the girls: a life dedicated to God, time management, prioritizing, determination, a habit of reading, respect, truthfulness and confidence. Nabila carefully demonstrated to the girls how these nuggets of wisdom could help yield them a prosperous life. She stressed the importance of time management and prioritizing in ensuring a successful career and encouraged the students to develop a habit of reading worthwhile material, while fostering healthy competition amongst themselves. Her exposé was followed by an interactive session. Everyone gained better insight into the speaker’s inspiration, mentors, and how she overcame certain obstacles in her life. The audience particularly welcomed her insights on becoming a good public speaker through practice and gaining confidence.
“You can never catch up on lost time.”
– Daphne Lariba Nabila
The second part focused on GEIG and was led by Amos Elikem Acheampong, the organization’s academic director. He began his remarks by sharing GEIG’s stance on the role of women in national development and how, despite constitutional provisions for equal education opportunity, society tends to make this difficult for girls. Acheampong elaborated on the selection process for GEIG’s first cohort form over 70 applicants from public and private schools in the Ashanti and Greater Accra regions of Ghana. Thereafter, the audience had the opportunity to interact with the girls, hear their stories and share their own.
Selorm Djaba, GEIG’s administrator, launched the organization’s mentorship program, while sharing her expectations for the program. She stressed the importance of mentors providing mentees with emotional and psychological support through their formative years and allowing them to draw on their experience in similar situations they might face. Her presentation was followed by that of Rebecca Sowah from Vlisco, a textiles company that specializes in Dutch wax prints, popularly known as “African print”. Ms. Sowah introduced the Vlisco Women’s Month Campaign, which seeks to celebrate the contributions of women to Africa’s development and to share their inspiring stories with the world. This year’s nominees include GEIG Executive Director Elizabeth Patterson, Kokui Selormey and Valerie Larbi Okudzeto. Both Patterson and Selormey were present at the event and shared their respective life stories with the audience. The event ended with Patterson thanking everyone present for taking interest in GEIG’s initiatives and an ardent call for continued support into the future.
“Never doubt yourself.”
– Kokui Selormey
Speaking to guest speaker Daphne Nabila after the event, she shared the joy and fulfillment she got from being chosen to speak to the girls and inspiring the cohort to climb the ladder of successes as she has. I also spoke to Catherine Irwin of The One Event, a public relations and event organizing company spearheading the Vlisco campaign. She expressed her excitement with GEIG’s leadership development and mentorship program and how it all ties into Vlisco’s celebration of women’s will and determination to help others.
Patterson also shared on GEIG’s plan for the future, which includes strategizing for the next activity under the leadership development and mentorship program:
“The Women Who Inspire Us series will continue to occur once per school term, alternating between the Ashanti and the Greater Accra regions, where we currently serve the 13 students under the program.”
She also hinted at plans to expand and bring in new girls from GEIG’s operational districts every three years. The inaugural Woman Who Inspire Us workshop/ speaker series clearly exhibited the passion and positive attitude GEIG has towards girl child education; and how eager they are to solve practical problem of illiteracy among Ghanaian girls.
Inspired by GEIG’s work? Support Elizabeth in the 2015 Vlisco Women’s Month Awards.
Written by Hakeem Adam, edited by Jemila Abdulai
Photos via CitiFmOnline