A Gender Activist Inspired by the AWLI
It has been said that the wise men came from the East but there must have been some women too!! Today we are proud to share the leadership journey of one wise woman from the East of Ghana; Joyce OpokuBoateng a Lawyer and a native of Kwahu Danteng who profoundly speaks of the AWLI experience;a training she recommends for every young woman…I hope that her story inspires you too!
The inner attributes of a woman of strength
I believe in the innate strength of women to positively transform the world. Women need to discover themselves, appreciate their leadership potential, and take charge in a more structured manner. Women need to form a critical mass to get things moving. It is important to document the stories of women to serve as a springboard for building the critical mass.
Who is Joyce OpokuBoateng?
I started my basic education at Danteng Methodist Primary and continued at the Morning Star School, Cantonments, and Accra, where I sat for the Common Entrance examination. I attended Aburi Girls Secondary, for both “O” and “A” Levels – 1979-1986 before proceeding to the University of Ghana where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Sociology in (1990)
After attending the Ghana Law School I was called to the Ghana Bar as Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Ghana in March 1994’; I Studied Law relating to Banking Services at the Guildhall University, London (ACIB). I am also qualified as Legal Secretary – London. I am a member of various associations including Federation of International Women Lawyers – FIDA
Currently the Founder/CEO – The NIMBUS Foundation www.nimbusfoundation.organd Founder/CEO – Cradle FC (Football), I worked as a Legal Counsel with PresteaSankofa Gold Ltd and Legal officer in the Ministry for Women and Children’s Affairs. I am also a Partner with Opoku-Boateng& Association, Agona Law Chambers, Accra.
I have held various honoraries as Honorable Colonel of the Order of the Kentucky Colonel, USA (2007), SupremoViajante del Sudoeste by the El Paso County Council, USA (2007) andrepresented the Honorable Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs at ECOWAS, Abuja and the Organization of American States, Washington, USA, Senegal, Cameroun, Benin (2003-2006). I am proud to be one of the alumni of the prestigious African Women Leadership Institute (2002), an initiative of Akina Mama wa Afrika.
My AWLI story
The training at AWLI gave me an insight into the philosophy of gender equality, and gender as a social and development construct. I had a better understanding of the concepts of gender mainstreaming and it enabled me to articulate my views on gender in a more meaningful way. I can proudly call myself a gender activist thanks to the training I had at the AWLI
At AWLI I was able to distinguish between work, activism and personal care. We were taken through relaxation techniques in addition to the theories and practice of gender advocacy. Networking was an area of gender work that was emphasized at the AWLI.Determined to transform women’s lives I have not stopped at this but have moved on and now set up an NGO called The NIMBUS Foundationwww.nimbusfoundation.org; an organization that is aimed at promoting the rights of women and children through advocacy and training among others.l continue to draw upon the network of friends that I have made throughout my human rights work. And have learnt to understand the peculiar challenges that women face both as activists and as members of the community. Empathy should be a watchword in our work as advocates.
One cannot change the mindset of others when one does not have a thorough appreciation of the issues and concepts that you are advocating on. It is important to have a good understanding of gender as a discipline, a tool for social change and a development construct. I would recommend that all young women who wish to be advocates undergo the training that AWLI offered me in 2002. It has shaped my thinking and enriched my language as a gender advocate.
Speaking of a vibrant and sustained women’s movement
Since Rome was not built in a day, it is important that the debate on gender equality continue unabated. It has to be rejuvenated and new faces must join the movement for its sustainability. This means that training of young people of both sexes must continue. Training must take account of emerging issues, including political and economic debates while looking at those from the gender lens.
In 2012 I contested for a parliamentary seat in one of the biggest constituencies in the country (Nkawkaw in the Eastern Region of Ghana). My experience is that the men are not prepared to give in to women’s participation and went all out to fight for the seat, in spite of the Manifesto promises. Young women who wish to contest for political leadership should understand that seats are not won on a silver platter. They need to work two times harder than their male counterparts. What I learnt is that although I did not win the seat, I have made significant inroads into the national politics and hope to build on the gains made.
If you must remember me…
I want to be remembered as a woman who was not daunted by social circumstances but tried to brighten every corner that I found myself. The ups and downs will come, they are part of life. When I am down I look at the bright side and quickly rise up and fly with the eagles. I like this quotation by Shakespeare very much:
“ ’Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our garden, to which our wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant nettles, or sow lettuce, set hyssop ands up tine, supply it with one gender of herbs, or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness, or manured with industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills”
For more information, please visit the website for my organization the NIMBUS Foundation on: www.nimbusfoundation.org
AKina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.
For more on IIE , ACE or AMwA please follow the links below.