Ama, a 14-year-old girl from Ghana, represents many girls in the rural part of the country, who, due to traditional beliefs and culture, were brought up with the belief that girls are to be seen and not heard, while leadership roles and white-collar-jobs are for men only.
"I used to be a very shy girl with little confidence,” she said. “I didn't take up leadership roles or have any clear goal of who I wanted to be in the future. For me, hiding in the crowd and being in my comfort zone was just the right thing for a girl to do.”
Through Plan Ghana's Girl Power Project, girls' camps are organized for those from hard–to-reach and deprived communities to empower them with basic skills to build their confidence and encourage them to aspire for greater heights in society. In 2014, over 700 girls, including those with disabilities, participated in the project.
Typically, camp sessions are organized during vacation periods and last for eight days in each region's largest town. Girls who attend the camps mostly come from rural communities. Many have never been to large towns and arrive excited to be exposed to the wider environment beyond their local areas.
At the camps, girls interact with several female role models who motivate them to climb the academic ladder and achieve success in the future. The girls are given training in information technology, gender, and reproductive health. They visit places of educational interest, such as universities that show them what is possible if they work hard and continue their education.
"I was not really sure I could become a great person in the future but after meeting with the Ghana Educational Service Manager, I felt I could be like her,” said Doria, a camp attendee. ”She said the sky is the limit if we work hard, and this has really encouraged me to keep learning.”
With the aim of enabling financially-challenged girls to generate funds during vacations to support their education, participants at the girls' camps are also trained in practical skills like making soap, beads, and fascinators (decorative headpieces).
Ama is now taking on leadership roles and is currently the leader of the Girl Panel Group in her district. Under her leadership, Ama and her colleagues have been engaging in awareness-raising and peer education on various issues.