Life through a lens
Patricia Yeboah's Award project has enabled marginalised young women to share their stories and experiences with the community through the art of photography.
As part of her Bronze Award, Patricia Yeboah opted to take up photography for her Service Section and from that was inspired to share her passion with other women in her community in Ghana. Many of these young women have little opportunity to particpate in education or other learning projects, something Patricia was keen to address.
The gender gap
Despite variations across different locations, socio-economic and ethnic groups, women’s status in Ghana is generally low. Women and girls often bear the heavy burden of domestic tasks, leaving them little time for education or participation in the community. Illiteracy rates are over 15 per cent higher among women than men  and there are still significant gender gaps in secondary and tertiary education. In addition, several case studies confirmed the seriousness of the problem of Gender Based Violence in Ghana. Gender inequality continues to undermine local and national efforts for improving living conditions, reducing poverty and enhancing national development . In response to these challenges, Patricia’s project is designed to promote gender equality, empower young women and challenge views about the role of women in society through the use of arts and culture.
Patricia wanted to give some of these young women a way to share their feelings and experiences and to make a memorable impact on the community. "I believe photographs can preserve history; they tell a story, recall an event, connect people to one another and give the marginalised a voice," says Patricia, who was inspired by the values of the Award. The Award is non-discriminatory and everybody, regardless of their gender, background or circumstances can participate and discover their potential.
Not just a girl
She is currently working with 10 girls who meet once a week, normally at the weekend on the premises of a local school, to explore the essence of being a girl through the use of photography. The 10 girls have used photographs to share their thoughts, their joy and pain, their hopes and dreams, and their various experiences. The girls mounted a stand to display their photographs at the school’s prize giving day. The girls saved their own money to pay for 50 per cent of the cost of printing their own pictures, with the Head of State Award(the Award programme in Ghana) helping to fund the other 50 per cent. The day was attended by parents, community leaders and members of the public. For Bronze Award participant Beatrice Adjetey, taking part in Patricia's project has given her the respect of others: "I never thought I could be that confident in telling my own stories through photography. My peers now respect and value my contributions."
Having witnessed the work by the girls, the school and community are becoming very optimistic about the project and the community are starting to change their mentality about girls: "I am happy to see these girls using their leisure time hours well. I was moved with the stories they put together through the pictures they took," said Mr. John Say, a father of one of the girls.
Following Patricia’s example, many more young women have enrolled in the Award. Patricia’s plan is to expand the photography project to other schools and continue to be a catalyst for change. The major challenge they face is that they all depend on one camera but Patricia is applying for funding for more cameras through a Canadian partnership.
- The Award in Ghana
-  Linking Gender, Environment, and Poverty for Sustainable Development: A Synthesis Report on Ethiopia and Ghana, Social Development Department Sustainable Development Network The World Bank January 2012
-  GHANA COUNTRY GENDER PROFILE, AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT FUND, October, 2008
- Measuring the Award's Impact