Ghana is the second largest producer of gold in Africa. According to a special report on African women in artisanal and small-scale mining published by the African Union and the African Minerals Development Centre, this mining workforce attributes more than half of the worker population to women.
The gender-specific social and economic barriers that women and girls face such as limited access to decent jobs in the mines and exposure to gender and sexual abuse have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. The reverse is also true. Women’s opportunities to engage in economic activities and improve their socio-political status are affected by limited access to healthcare, contraception and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education.
The Golden Line Programme
Based on the barriers mentioned above, Hope for Future Generations is implementing the Golden Line Programme in partnership with Simavi, Solidaridad and Healthy Entrepreneurs to improve the health, economic opportunities and empowerment of women living in and around artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) communities in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal, Wassa Amenfi East, Prestea-Huni Valley and Ellembelle districts in the Western region of Ghana.
The overall goal of the project is to work closely with communities to improve women’s status and abilities to engage in economic activities, increase their SRHR knowledge and create an environment where communities, health workers and authorities actively recognise women’s health rights.
According to Cecilia Senoo, the Founder and Executive Director of HFFG,
The 5-year Golden Line Programme (GLP), funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focuses on reducing the limitations of women regarding their economic resources in order to increase their access to health services, especially those related to their sexual and reproductive health rights.
As part of this programme, HFFG is expected to form 75 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) in 15 communities in the project areas to help women overcome financial barriers that make them prone to sexual and gender-based violence. The Associations will also be used as platforms to provide sexual and reproductive health education and livelihood skills to women. The concept has also been endorsed by traditional leaders in the project areas.
VSLA groups are common modes of improving communities’ livelihoods as they promote a saving culture among project participants and offer soft loans that boost the economic initiatives of members. In fact, one of these groups formed under the Golden Line Programme is the Obaatanpa (Good Mother) VSLA group in Abreshia in the Wassa Amenfi East district.
Barikisu Abugri: Obaatanpa Village Savings and Loans Association
22-year old Barikisu Abugri is a mother of one and an executive member of the Obaatanpa VSLA group. She dropped out of school in Form One at the junior high school level. She is happy about the existence of the group in her community though she wished her family knew about it when she was much younger.
I dropped out of school because my family could no longer afford the costs that came with my education. If a group like this existed in my village, I am sure my mother would have ensured that I stayed in school with the small loans she would have received.
Barikisu has committed to ensure that her daughter stays in school longer than she did and she believes the VLSA will greatly support her in this quest. Young women like Barikisu are increasingly owning decision-making power within their households and showcase that they can make informed decisions about their health due to this growing financial strength.