The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. Every year, the 8th of March gives us an opportunity to reflect on how we are driving forward gender equality in our work – within our organisation, within our programmes, and within ourselves. Are we doing all we can do to #breakthebias?
Our programmes are designed to give opportunities to women and girls, to work towards putting them on an equal playing field. But the fight for gender equality runs through every part of our organisation – from policy to programmes, all that we do must contribute towards a fairer world.
Achieving gender equality in our team is not an easy task, and does not have a quick fix. Women in Lawra, where 34% of girls are married before they are 18 and just 2.5% of women own land, have access to far less opportunities than men. They are less likely to complete basic education, less likely to go to senior high school, and therefore less likely to seem the best qualified for jobs – at least on paper. This can make employing women into our team a real challenge. As an organisation, we are lucky to have incredible male advocates and to have many women working at a senior level – together, we consciously ensure we seek and empower women for new roles at ATE.
Gabriel Maanibe, our Director of Operations, is a fierce advocate for women’s rights. He says: “To the women at ATE, we see and acknowledge your leadership prowess in the work we do. Your contributions to international development and the focus on Lawra are a clear indication of your thoughtfulness, leadership, resiliency, and hard work. We are with you in this partnership and to celebrate you.”
One of the things that we are most proud of as an organisation is our flexibility and inclusivity. We actively support women to manage the juggle of motherhood and employment by encouraging flexible working hours in the UK and in Ghana, having a workplace culture that supports breastfeeding in our office spaces, facilitating part time hours where needed to ease women back to work after maternity leave, and regularly celebrating the huge achievements of women who manage to care for children whilst working.
We are constantly inspired by all of the incredible women that we work with – both in our team and through our programmes – who continue to fight the status quo, and make a difference to the lives of people in Lawra.
Here are the reflections of some of the wonderful women of ATE this International Women’s Day:
“Women – we deserve to be celebrated because the woman is the backbone of every family. I use the opportunity given to me by ATE to tell the school children not to give up in life and most importantly they should take their education seriously because that is the main way for them to make their lives better.” Charity Kyekpo, ATE Hub Manager
“I had dreams professionally (to come and work in London having an global career) and personally, like for example running marathons and travelling the world. Through hard work, resilience and passion I have been able to achieve my dreams, listening to my inner voice, fighting gender discrimination and celebrating women along the way. For the girls in Lawra, I would like to expose them to some of what the world can offer, inspire them and help educate and coach them so they can build a sustainable future and realise their dreams.” Nathalie Burdet, Trustee
“As a woman, I am proud to be employed by ATE, and to be able to take care of my kids. What we can do is to educate girls on how to have something to do in the future.” Esther Bekah, SNAP Coordinator
“At times, being the single parent of a baby whilst chief executive of a small charity felt completely impossible, and I’m really proud to have managed through it with both Aviella and ATE unscathed! In my most difficult moments, when it all felt insurmountable, I looked to my female friends in Lawra for inspiration. The strength of these women, who remain devoted to their children whilst carrying huge physical workloads as well as full time employed jobs, is spectacular – they are my heroes.
I will lead ATE in a genuinely inclusive way, where women are given the flexibility and support needed to achieve at work whilst raising a family. Everywhere this is a huge challenge, and incredibly so in Lawra, and I’m excited to lead the way in enabling women to succeed, playing my part to help create a world of equity and inclusion.” Sarah Gardner, Chief Executive
“As a widow, I have been able to take care of my children over the years – I am proud.” Lamisi Karbo, Catering Coordinator
“In my role at ATE, I work with our trailblazing female staff in Ghana to make a measurable difference to the lives of women and girls in Lawra. From our work with SNAP mothers, advocating for inclusion and opportunities, to ensuring that girls in our rural Hubs can attend school whilst on their period, I’m proud of the difference our work is making, and of the part I play in it.” Tara Colsell-Hawes, Programmes and Development Manager
“We should be proud of the ability to bring forth offsprings and raise them to be leaders of tomorrow.” Edina Nuokpier, Inclusion Centre Cleaner
“As a woman, I feel I bring compassion and courage to make a difference in places where these things are not always a priority. I want girls around the world to believe they matter as much as the next person, and that they can bring themselves to any situation, and that they would count.” Trudi Taylor, Trustee
“I have children and it’s my responsibility to raise them well to fit into society, as well as to support my family financially and emotionally. Being able to achieve all this makes me proud as a woman.” Ayishetu Mahama, Cook at Kunyukuo JHS
“I am proud of reaching my mid seventies, following a life of much good fortune and joy but also, at times, great difficulty and pain. It is a privilege to be able to use my skills and experience in working as a Trustee for such a wonderful organisation as ATE and the people in Lawra.” Susan Suchopar, Trustee
“To the women at ATE, we see and acknowledge your leadership prowess in the work we do. Your contributions to international development and the focus on Lawra are a clear indication of your thoughtfulness, leadership, resiliency, and hard work. We are with you in this partnership and to celebrate you.” Gabriel N-yoh Maanibe, Director of Operations