Feminism and Freedom in Ghana: The Ms. Q&A With Nana Akosua Hanson

Akosua Hanson stated she is a “deep believer within the energy of popular culture as a remodeling device.” (Courtesy of Nana Akosua Hanson)

I traveled to Ghana, West Africa, in March for a global leadership summit hosted by Northeastern College, the place I work. Whereas I had been to Accra a number of occasions, this was my first time being there throughout Worldwide Ladies’s Day and Ladies’s Historical past Month. The timing had me desirous about how feminists are advancing gender justice in Ghana immediately.

I spoke with Nana Akosua Hanson, feminist activist, journalist and founding father of Let’s Speak Consent to study extra about her imaginative and prescient for a feminist future, the significance of artwork and media, and her activism that’s primarily based in Ghana—however is having a really international impression.

Taken collectively, Nana Akosua’s feedback reminds us that feminism is finally, an expansive and inclusive freedom undertaking. Certainly, the concept of feminism as a freedom undertaking is to not be taken calmly within the context of Ghana—which, in 1957 became the first Black African country to gain independence from British colonial rule. The work of constructing a feminist future that’s extra simply and most invested in communal care is gradual and vital work that requires a number of approaches. From her native organizing, use of latest artwork and media presence, Nana Akosua Hanson is main the best way to advance feminism and freedom in Ghana.

Régine Michelle Jean-Charles: Inform us extra about your self and the feminist work you might be engaged in.

Nana Akosua Hanson: I’m an African feminist who believes deeply within the energy of artwork and inventive expression in altering the world. My feminist work has largely been centered on pan-African, feminist and environmental activism.

In 2016, I launched a sex ed workshop in Accra, dubbed “Let’s Talk Consent,” which sought to finish an endemic rape tradition by introducing a sex-ed curriculum for college kids and adults centered in gender and constructing a resilient consent tradition. This later developed to turn into Drama Queens, a youth-based inventive activist group that aimed to make use of theatre and different artwork varieties for feminist, pan-African and environmentalist activism.

I’m a deep believer within the energy of popular culture as a remodeling device. Thus, in my work as a tv and radio presenter, I intention to convey an African feminist perspective to the mainstream with information, commentary and evaluation of in style tradition and social points.

I’m additionally the creator of the award-winning graphic novel collection, Moongirls, which follows the adventures of 4 ladies superheroes preventing for an Africa free from the violence of patriarchal programs, rape tradition, corruption, environmental destruction, neo-colonialism, and so forth. Moongirls was created to contribute to making a extra numerous palette of popular culture that folks devour. 

Based in 2016 by Nana Akosua Hanson, Drama Queens is a younger feminist group working to create a tradition of consent in Ghana. (Courtesy of Drama Queens)

Jean-Charles: I actually love this marketing campaign to provoke conversations about consent, which additionally jogs my memory of the work of A Long Walk Home, whose “Bought Consent?” marketing campaign equally helped to reframe how we take into consideration sexual violence by urging us to give attention to energy and consent and underscored sexual violence as a feminist challenge.

Are you able to inform us extra about your individual feminist evolution/awakening/coming into consciousness?

Akosua Hanson: I believe my earliest reminiscence of a type of feminist coming-into-consciousness was within the literature of African feminist icon and Ghanaian literary legend, Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo. The literature of Ama Ata Aidoo—who was a poet, playwright, novelist and feminist activist—raised my consciousness to discovering freedom, defining it for myself and dwelling courageously in my freedom, regardless of a violent and patriarchal society that dictated in any other case.

After I entered maturity, significantly the workforce, the cruel realities of an endemic system of violent patriarchy actually hit house. My freedom is hinged on the liberty of all ladies in society. Sexual violence turned the very first feminist challenge that pulled me to start out my activism and to make use of my artwork to push cultural change.

After I entered maturity, significantly the workforce, the cruel realities of an endemic system of violent patriarchy actually hit house.

Jean-Charles: In your work as a journalist, you’ve got steadfastly taken on subjects associated to gender justice—from gender-based violence to the pay hole for girls.

How do you assume media and journalism assist to advance feminist causes?

Akosua Hanson: Media and journalism are avenues by which feminist causes might be mainstreamed, introduced into the general public enviornment to boost consciousness, to convey up for public discourse, to push for change, and to check freer societies as a collective.

The media is a vital public discussion board by which society views itself, examines itself, discusses itself. We should have numerous voices within the public enviornment to make sure a really democratic and free society. And people voices should embody ladies’s voices within the range of our tales. It’s by way of the media the social invisibilization of ladies in the private and non-private arenas takes place.

So you will need to me to say house in my journalism, on radio and on TV to advance feminist causes and stem the tide of the general public erasure of ladies’s tales and realities, to attract public consideration to violence in opposition to ladies, to function a fact-checker in a misogyny-biased enviornment, and to problem sexist ideology which is mainstreamed in Ghanaian media. Most significantly, media and journalism can be utilized to push for social reform.

Jean-Charles: In response to one newspaper, you might be among the many ladies “leading a feminist revolution in Ghana.” What does this imply to you?

Akosua Hanson: Frankly, it’s a giant title I can’t declare. The work I do is as a part of a motion of African feminists and inventive activists all around the African continent and within the diaspora. However I do acknowledge this as an indication that the impression of the motion in Ghana is being felt. This offers me hope that the dream of a Ghana with higher, freer, kinder societies will come to actuality.

Jean-Charles: How did you spend your Worldwide Ladies’s Day?

Akosua Hanson: On IWD day, I used to be co-organizing the launch of the Women in Motion Film Festival, a joint initiative between Alliance Française Accra, the Goethe-Institut Accra, and the U.S. embassy in Accra that sought to have a good time movie made by, for and about ladies as a part of the Worldwide Ladies’s Day competition. This was a week-long competition held in several areas in Accra and featured a various vary of movies from Ghana, France and Germany, from narrative movies, documentaries, brief movies, animation, avant-garde, to experimental movie. It was successful!

Public discourse round gender and sexuality has been framed by non secular leaders who preach a spiritual patriarchy the place ladies’s existence is hinged on males, and LGBT+ persons are dehumanized.

Folks participate within the Ladies’s March in entrance of the U.S. embassy in Accra on Jan. 21, 2017. Protest rallies have been held in over 30 international locations world wide in solidarity with the U.S. march in protection of press freedom, ladies’s and human rights following the inauguration of Donald Trump because the forty fifth president of U.S. (Cristina Aldehuela / AFP through Getty Photographs)

Jean-Charles: In your view, what are essentially the most urgent points dealing with feminists in Ghana?

Akosua Hanson: The rising viciousness of Ghanaian homophobia, headlined by the anti-LGBT+ bill presently in consideration in parliament, is a urgent feminist challenge.

Ghana has at all times been a really non secular nation—Christianity being the most important faith, with 71.3 % of the inhabitants being a member of assorted Christian denominations. This has meant that public discourse round gender and sexuality has been framed by non secular leaders who preach a spiritual patriarchy the place ladies’s existence is hinged on males, and LGBT+ persons are dehumanized.

The insidiousness of this, coupled with a rising starvation of spiritual leaders to infiltrate the political and legislative house, has culminated within the introduction of an anti-LGBT invoice to parliament, which seeks to criminalize LGBT+ existence and all types of advocacy for the rights and dignity of Ghanaian LGBT+ individuals. Pushed by the identical anti-LGBT forces with hyperlinks to far-right U.S. evangelical actions, we see an identical strikes in international locations like Kenya and Uganda. Uganda’s parliament has simply handed an identical invoice criminalizing LGBT+ existence and even imposing [the] dying penalty for some offenses.

Ghana’s invoice would criminalize even sympathy and proposes probably a variety of human rights violations that, if handed, would institute state-sanctioned violence and terrorism in opposition to the LGBT+ group in all spheres of life.

It is a very pressing feminist challenge on all ranges which requires a essential engagement with discourses of faith, tradition and custom in Ghana.

Jean-Charles: In mild of what we now have seen [with] the rise of U.S. tourism to Ghana and some of the problems that accompany it, how can Black feminists from different components of the world apply solidarity in moral and significant methods with feminists, ladies, ladies and nonbinary individuals in Ghana?

Akosua Hanson: By shifting from the fluff and superficial, to having actual conversations with one another, connecting our shared struggles and growing the spheres of our activism.

As an illustration, the problem of the anti-LGBT+ invoice in Ghana is linked to international non secular actions and Black feminist solidarity within the face of that is much more essential. Solidarity additionally seems like fostering and sustaining robust collaborations and constructing collectively freer, kinder programs. Nevertheless, to do that ethically and meaningfully, this must be within the spirit of mutual respect with trustworthy and open dialogue of distinction and similarity; of care and mutual help.

Attendess of the Northeastern World Management Summit on the Kempinski Lodge in Accra, Ghana. (Alyssa Stone / Northeastern College)

Jean-Charles: Please share extra about a few of your present tasks and the place you see your work going sooner or later. 

Akosua Hanson: Moongirls is my newest inventive undertaking. That is an grownup graphic novel collection that follows the adventures of 4 ladies superheroes with various superpowers who’re preventing a philosophical and bodily struggle for an Africa free from the violence of patriarchy, non secular intolerance, corruption and environmental destruction. This 12 months, we launched the third season of Moongirls. We’re calling this the Moongirls Origin Tales and it delves deep into pre-colonial African societies and African folklore and mythology. Learn all chapters at moongirls.live and drop us a phrase within the “Chapter Afterthoughts” part!

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