Tiwaa Janet lives an average life for a young girl in Accra, Ghana. Janet, as she is called, is small-framed with very narrow hands-- good for sewing, she was often told. Her mother put her in front of a sewing machine before she ever thought about sending her to school. She learned to sew all sorts of things. She was known to be very good and very fast.
She did well in school and went on to graduate with high marks from the Elle J Fashion School of Ghana. The young girls of Elle J. Fashion commit to their studies and promise not to become pregnant while in school or if unmarried. She was first in her class in pattern drafting, fashion illustration, sewing, free hand cutting, millinery and beading.
Today, her nimble hands are hard at work making masks to help protect us all during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ambitions of schoolgirls in Ghana are often hobbled by gender-based violence or teenage pregnancy. Protecting access to and advancing unbiased education for girls in Ghana- and in Africa- overall is among the major United Nations initiatives. The UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education, dedicated to "enhancing the quality and relevance of education for adolescent girls through gender-responsive teaching and learning” (2015-2020), is coordinated by UNESCO HQ in Ghana and Ethiopia, with technical support from UNESCO-IICBA. As part of the project in Ghana, activities build the capacity of Girls’ Education Unit staff of the Ghana Education Service under the Ministry of Education, enabling them to effectively coordinate interventions on girls’ education in the country.
Tiwaa Janet beat the odds and is now working everyday to help us beat back the spread of Covid-19. I, for one, am very glad she is among the growing group of young Ghanaian girls who did.