Key elements of context
- Patriarchal society where men are the primary authority to social organisation and play central roles in political leadership, moral authority and property control.
- Women are always in a position of subordination
- Widowhood rites are considered as respectful to the memory of the deceased.
- In-laws use it as on opportunity to settle scores with the widow
- Widows may be accused of being behind the death of their husband.
- Under the traditional custom of the Chansa community women whose husbands die have to undergo rituals which may last up to five years before they can marry again. Women have their clothes removed by their sisters-in-laws and are given only a white loin cloth and a headscarf to wear
Theory of change
Women were the primary beneficiaries of this micro‐project, as they are the most vulnerable people in the target communities. The theory of change, developed during needs assessment with the communities, was that improving their knowledge on human rights would empower them to insist on their rights and to seek support from the structures put in place for their protection. Improving the human rights situation of women would also naturally impact on their children’s well‐being in general, as well as children’s education and health. There would also be a broader beneficial impact on the community as a whole. Given that Chansa community is a patriarchal society, it was anticipated that the project might encounter some resistance from authority figures who would see the project as threatening their interests. It was therefore deemed essential to involve community leaders from the outset, in order to secure their engagement with any changes. This theory of change was based on both Amnesty International and Maata‐ N‐Tudu’s (AI’s main partner in Ghana) experiences in approaching discrimination and harmful practices affecting women and girls. This has proven that the participatory approach, where communities identify the issues they wish to address, ensures that power dynamics are ‘defused’ and that authorities recognise the benefits, not least to them, of a more harmonious community.