A lot has changed since I started my contract here in Ghana in November 2016. I’ve definitely learned a lot and had a ton of great experiences, but I’ve also had some challenges. I wanted to take a minute to reflect on what I’ve done, what’s coming up, and what impact I’ve been able to have so far. I am choosing to write about it here because as I mentioned in my very first post about this work (here), positive impact can’t be had unless you are willing to check back in and be held accountable.
The initial project I came for was with one of Crossroads’ partners in the Volta Region. After 5 months on that project, I was given the opportunity to move to a new project in Accra that would allow me to work with a number of different partners we have in Ghana - not only in Accra, but across the country. As Crossroads expands in Ghana, I will be working to complete needs assessments, organizational diagnostics, and finding out how we can best support our partners in 2017 and beyond. It is an opportunity that I am very much looking forward to.
But before I look forward, I want to reflect on what I’ve done so far. The project I started with in the Volta Region focused on strategic development and long term planning, and it was a great learning experience. To me, my work is first and foremost women’s advocacy work, and that is the marker I am using to determine the impact of my time. Within the context of women’s advocacy, and on that specific project, I was not able to have the impact that I wanted to achieve. There were definitely some successes (a new strategic plan, and many organizational tools), and I do feel like some areas of the project had impact, but overall I was hoping to have a more sustainable and impactful result. I am not going to go into detail on the specific challenges I faced because I don’t think that would be fair to the organization I was working with.
If I expand my reflections to go beyond my specific project and outward to my life and my time here in general, then I do feel my time has been impactful. Since my arrival I have been able to connect with so many amazing women and people. I’ve been learning, growing, and becoming a more informed and intersectional champion for gender advocacy work.
The two main groups I have connected with personally are the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), and the Humanist Association of Ghana (HAG). Both of these groups are deeply intersectional in their women’s advocacy and work to prioritize the most marginalized women, including women in the LGBTQ+ community (a group still rarely supported in the women’s movement in Ghana). The women I’ve met through these organizations have been great at pushing me to learn more, do better, and become a more professional advocate for gender equity - and I am very grateful for that. At the same time, I do think I have contributed positively to their communities as well, engaging in meetings, workshops, twitter chats, and other advocacy activities.
From all of these experiences so far, I have learned many things, but I want to highlight two specifically. First, yes - there can be short term work with big impact, but the real change happens over many years. I believe this MLK quote sums it up well: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. Although, I do think it's important to point out that the bend towards justice doesn’t just happen - it is the result of years of hard work by activists and the advocacy community. And second, this work isn’t just about what you are doing from 9am - 5pm, it is about how you live your life, express your values, and prioritize your time. You can contribute to change at your job, but you can also contribute to it outside of your work. To me, advocacy is not just a career, it is a lifestyle. And it’s important to take any opportunity you are given to work towards positive change.
As I look forward to the next 5 months in Ghana, I will continue to focus on the impact I can have within the women’s advocacy space, both in my work and in my life as a whole. I look forward to seeing what can be accomplished!
Sign up to get an email notification when I upload a new blog post here.