The first public showing of the short documentary titled, ‘When Women Speak’ happened at the Goethe Institute in Accra last Friday, 14th January 2022. As a gender advocate and someone who uses her platforms to push women’s stories, I had the privilege of seeing the much anticipated film. The film captures the voices of sixteen women activists who have in their own ways shattered the glass ceiling despite the many challenges they faced.
These sixteen women who were featured and interviewed for the film are, Justice Annie Jiagge, Prof. Akua Akuenyhia, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Prof. Florence Dolphyne, Elizabeth Ohene, Vicky Wireko, Hilary Gbedemah, Mrs Dorcas Coker-Appiah, Prof. Dzodzi Tsikata, Prof. Takyiwaa Manuh, Dr. Rose Mensah Kutin, Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Mrs Marian Tackie, Mrs Catherine Bob-Milliar, Madam Joyce Aryee, Madam Akua Ashon, among a few others.
The film which was produced and directed by Aseye Tamakloe, Akosua Adomako Ampofo, and Kate Skinner, aimed at portraying the real stories of women in Ghana post independence and how their stories can help fill the generational gap in women’s activism in Ghana.
The film portrayed how women were seen as hoarders and Kalabule in the coup, military regime. Women were brutalized for hoarding items but it wasn’t really hoarding at the time, goods were given to market queens in bulk who later distributed the things but this was not well understood.
31st women’s movement was later set up and Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings was at the forefront, helping to mobilize funds and resources for women, due to her role as First Lady.
Women journalists faced abuse and brutalities for writing against existing government administrations. The stories of Vicky Wireko and Elizabeth Ohene drum home salient points which cannot be overlooked by female journalists and aspiring ones.
These were days when women getting a job was difficult because it was assumed that once you were employed, you would marry and go on martenity leave. This topic is not far fetched as many women still go through this challenge even in the 21st century.
Passage of Intestate Succession law
It was worth noting that with the help of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings and other active women, the Intestate Succession law was passed. This was able to help protect women who had lost their husbands from losing their properties to family members.
According to one of the women who were interviewed, “Seeing the suffering of women, the Intestate Succession law was right at the time however polygamous men were against it.”
FIDA involvement in women’s right issues
The film tells of how women were invited into the FIDA offices to attend to women and children issues, however later men started coming too and so it became open to all.
Even with the operations of FIDA, it was very difficult for women to become adversarial on their issues with men because of the relationships they had with them, so even taking men to court was difficult and a challenge for women’s rights organizations.
Affirmative action bill
Some women in parliament opposed the affirmative action bill which was set up in 1959/60 leading to its delay up until today. The film portrayed how whenever there is any bill that seem to favor women it goes through serious opposition.
Gap in women’s activism in Ghana
Madam Akua Ashon, sharing her story on how she had to resign from politics due to the stigma from society recounted that “…when women get into politics, what happens to them?… They get called names…. So I resigned because of this question my mother asked me…”
For Madam Joyce Aryee, one thing that surprised her the most was how women are entrusted with the duty of taking care of children. However, when it came to handling other matters such as politics women were seen as not good enough. The irony.
Activism is a challenge at many fronts
In 1957, Ghana became independent. Despite the role played by women in anti-colonial movements, the position of women in post-independence was uncertain. A generation of women were determined to get their issues heard. These are their voices.
The above and many more is what to expect as you look forward to encounter the film at the free public showings. The next showing will be happening at the National Theatre on the 27th of January 2022. As was announced at the showing, the film will later be put online for many more people to consume.