Dance4Life launches pilot in Ghana

In 2017 Dance4Life launched its new Youth Empowerment Model – a new peer-led curriculum based on positive youth development methodologies and the culmination of 12 years of research and programmatic evidence. In the next three years, we will be piloting the curriculum called the Journey4Life with new and existing partners.

Today we examine why we chose Ghana as one of our five countries to pilot our new programme. We interviewed our Amsterdam-based Partner Manager for Ghana, Tess Pairon, to learn more. We will profile our other pilot countries: Kenya, Russia, and Tanzania, in the upcoming issues of our newsletter. You can read about our Nepal pilot here.

Young people in Ghana can be a creative force and a dynamic source of innovation. This is a fact that is widely acknowledged by the organisations working on SRHR issues on the ground in Ghana. Our Ghanaian partner, Theater for Social Change, primarily operate in the Northern and Upper East Regions of the country which have the highest proportion of young people and also happen to be the poorest regions in Ghana.

Some facts about the Northern and Upper East regions of Ghanas:

  • The young people between ages 10-24 make up 38.4% of Ghana’s total fertility rate here compared to an average of 26.9% in other regions. This rate is attributable to high rates of child and early marriages.
  • Compared to the 27% national average for contraceptive use, young people in the Northern and Upper East Regions have much lower rates of usage coming in at 11 and 15.4%, respectively.
  • The highest proportion of teenage mothers in Ghana.
  • Poor family planning practices and cultural norms mean that more than 1 in 4 individual experience an unmet need of family planning.

1. Why is it so important that we focus on Ghana?

There is still a lot of gender inequality in Ghana which results in high instances of sexual abuse and violence. In the districts in which we are going to work with the Dance4Life model there’s a lack of knowledge and skills in SRHR leading to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion and generally a lack of freedom of choice.

2. Tell us a bit more about our partner Theater for Social Change. 

They are very innovative and they really move away from traditional CSE methodologies which are still used broadly in Ghana. Instead, they focus on interactive theater in and out of schools. Some of their training is quite similar to our exercises. For instance, one of the exercises is to identify what kind of behaviour is expected of different genders. We practiced some of the exercises from our Journey4Life. Askin: What behaviour and jobs fits with men and women and what kind of jobs do they generally have? What does this mean for girls and boys in their interaction with each other and their relationships? Do they see trends that move beyond the gender boxes? Theater for Social Change use a lot of role playing to reflect on the values and beliefs that exist in communities. 

3. What do we hope to accomplish in Ghana in 2018?

Currently Theater for Social Change’s reach is 100 young people per year via the Dance4Life 4 step model [Dance4Life’s predecessor to our current Journey4Life model]. They will upscale this reach through our pilot, reaching out to 500 young people. They will also be collecting more data and evidence around the approach and sessions.

4. What are the next steps in piloting the Journey4Life in Ghana?

Our next step is the contextualisation workshop. In March we will be completing the Champions4Life training where 20 individuals will be trained to implement the Journey4Life. The pilot will run from March to June where we will also conduct operational research. In July we collect the initial results and complete overall assessment with the help of an independent research institute. We will then adjust our strategies in the regions together with our partner and hopefully begin our second cycle of sessions in communities and schools.