Australia Awards Alumna, Amanda Odoi from Ghana is tackling gender-based violence from a different perspective – she believes that men need to be fully engaged and involved to end violence against women and girls.
Amanda who has been working on issues of gender equality and gender based violence for eight years, developed an interest in masculinities studies following her 2012 Australia Awards Fellowship on Building the Capacity of African Women Leaders: Gender Inclusive Development at Flinders University.
“During this period we were introduced to a lot of literature and statistics on gender based violence and how it is being addressed. We were further, introduced to the White ribbon group and how they are helping with advocacy against gender violence and how to engage men in gender based violence advocacy. This drew my attention to the fact that in all this work I have been doing, I had never considered the fact that men must be a focus,” says Amanda. Her work at the University of Cape Coast’s Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD) now revolves around the social and cultural practices that can lead to violent practices among men in Ghana.
In addition to research, Amanda is directly involved in handling diverse issues of concern to women at the University of Cape Coast and the surrounding communities especially in the area of advocacy on gender violence. Amanda says gender advocacy is challenging work due to long held attitudes about gender roles and the need to go against the status quo but she is already seeing positive results. “Students and other recipients of our advocacy programmes have come out to state the impact of the awareness in their lives. I assisted a student to leave an abusive situation she had been enduring for over 10 years. I hope to make more impact at CEGRAD and with the people I work with.”