Alliance for African Women Initiative (AFAWI)
managed by P. Agyei
AFAWI seeks to empower clients by providing a forum for developing leadership and business skills, creating support groups enabling women living with HIV/AIDS to discuss issues affecting them, advocating with national and local government agencies on their behalf and providing education to Ghanians on the facts surrounding HIV/AIDS. AFAWI currently operates as a national non-government organization in Ghana with its office in Accra.
AFAWI provides services directly to poor women and children to fill gaps in services provided by government agencies, including:
A. HIV/AIDS AFAWI maintains an ongoing support group for persons living with HIV/AIDS where the challenges of living with HIV/AIDS are discussed and addressed. Seed money to begin a rabbit farm together with acreage for a pineapple farm has been provided to members of the support group. Incomes from these businesses subsidize the purchase of necessary anti-retroviral drugs. Members also receive monthly packages of educational materials. Support group members who are healthier as a result of their membership also serve as peer educators in a national HIV/AIDS sensitization campaign funded by the Global Fund for AIDS.
B. Youth Development and Education AFAWI maintains a weekly teen club at three junior high schools in the Greater Accra area. The Clubs provide education on gender equality, adolescent health issues, including HIV/AIDS prevention and menstrual management, and develop youth leadership skills for vulnerable girls. Teachers serve as mentors and advisors. Student executives, elected by members of the Club, plan group activities and at the end of each school term, AFAWI hosts an awards ceremony to recognize exceptional students. The Clubs also plan long-term projects that will benefit the school community. For example, very few public schools in Ghana have libraries so the Clubs are exploring the possibility of building a library for Junior High students, providing access to English-language fiction and non-fiction books, newspapers and textbooks.
C. Student Absenteeism To combat low female student school attendance rates, AFAWI successfully implemented a pilot program in three schools in northern Ghana to educate students, teachers, administrators and parents about proper menstrual management practices, providing sanitary pads, incinerators and education on the issues. Further, teen clubs were established at the schools to provide leadership opportunities for girls; peer educators were trained so the education provided could be offered to other area schools. Finally, education on the importance of including girls in school decisions was provided to the whole school population.
2. Research: AFAWI conducts research on women and children’s issues, including research on the extent and impact of domestic violence and marital rape on market women in the greater Accra area, the sexual maturation and menstrual management practices of school girls in three northern regions of Ghana, and alcohol abuse among persons living with HIV/AIDS in the Ga East District.
3. Advocacy: AFAWI advocates on behalf of poor women and children at the district and national level to improve access to education and opportunity.
Three Major Accomplishments:
1. The establishment and continuation of a support group for persons living with HIV/AIDS. This group has been in existence since 2007, meets on a weekly basis and currently serves 40 people, 34 of whom are women.
2. The successful completion of a pilot project on sexual maturation and menstrual management practices in three schools in Northern Ghana. Urinal and toilet facilities were rehabilitated and a waste incinerator was installed at each school, 11,456 sanitary pads were distributed, 150 students and 26 teachers at the three schools were trained as peer educators on the issues of sex education, girls education, gender equality, menstruation, proper menstrual hygiene and HIV/AIDS. In addition, a sensitization campaign on the issues of sexual maturation, menstrual hygiene and HIV/AIDS was carried out at each school in which 336 girls and 410 boys participated.
3. Winning The World Bank Civil Society Award for Ghana and being chosen as the World Summit Youth Award Runner-Up 2010 because the sexual maturation pilot project was successful in advancing the Millenium Development Goal on education in Ghana.