By: Gilda Opoku, Saabea Owusu Konadu, Obed Ofori Nyarko
International Women’s Day(IWD) is a global day for celebrating the achievements of women. World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap report tells us that gender parity is over 200 years away but we are not discouraged because women are making positive gains and progress every day IWD has officially been recognised since 1911. It has been a pillar of light for many women who find themselves disadvantaged. The advent of theme-based celebration of the International women’s day begun in 1996 with “Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future” Over the years the movement has gone through a number of themes and this year’s theme is “Press for Progress”.
We are the African Journal of Current Medial Research (AfriJCMR) celebrate one of the phenomenal women in the medical field.Dr. Mrs. Gyikua Plange-Rhule. She is a senior lecturer in the Department of Child Health, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science of Technology of Science and Technology (KNUST), an Honorary Consultant Paediatrician and Head of the Mother Baby Unit (MBU) Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH). The MBU not only cares for the newborns but also interacts with the mothers and this requires nurturing instincts that only a mother can provide. Therefore, being a woman, a mother especially has helped in her capacity as a paediatrician and head of MBU.
Dr. Plange-Rhule is a great team member who has partnered with other great women in the past year. Together with other members of Staff of the MBU and KATH, she was involved in advocating for improving newborn care in Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. This advocacy finally led to Mrs. Rebecca Akuffo-Addo and Mrs. Samira Bawumia, the first and second lady of Ghana respectively, spearheading the fundraising and construction of a new MBU at KATH to help ease the congestion at the old MBU. This has been an inspiration to other women especially the youth in Ghana. Dr. Plange-Rhule is one of the co-investigators for World Health Organisation (WHO) study on Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), which has the potential to revolutionise newborn care throughout the world.
However, in her professional as well as social life, she has faced lot of disparaging comments in relation to her gender which she mostly ignores, because, according to her, “you don’t always have to explain yourself, you choose your battles carefully” she said.
She acknowledges that “if for nothing at all, the world stops to acknowledge women on IWD. The world creates awareness via various social media platforms and special programs such as cervical cancer screening exercises are also held for the benefit of women.”
When asked about what she thinks of the theme “Press for Progress”, she responded, “We are pressing for progress in our own way. The theme is encouraging not just for individual women but for nations to pursue their dreams. It means different things to different women, it encourages women to have dreams for themselves, their children and even their husbands”. Commenting on the preferential treatment sometimes given to women in terms of admission to public universities in Ghana, Dr. Plange-Rhule explained that this affirmative action was to bring women up not to put them ahead.
When asked about issues of gender disparity, she responded, “Women are judged a little more harshly than men in their professional lives. Because of this we cannot afford to cut corners, we have to work harder to prove ourselves”. She further commented that, “Every single human being on the face of the earth must strive to achieve their absolute God given potential whether male or female. The details of how one does this, however, is a personal decision. Every woman should know what she wants to achieve and go for it. But sometimes you have to accept the realities of life. For example, if you have a young family, the bulk of the burden of care for young children will usually fall upon the woman. Some of these competing demands may make it such that your career, professional or other aspirations sometimes have to be put on hold, temporarily or even permanently.”
Her advice to young women was “go for it but keep all aspects of life balanced. There is nothing worse than achieving success professionally and having a messed-up home, we have to learn to compromise. So on the one hand, yes, go for it, but if responsibilities of family or other responsibilities does not allow you to do absolutely everything that you want to, you might have to graciously accept it and do the very best you can. Remember to give God the final word in all these decisions of life because if you seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, all other things will be added to you!”
As a nation we could do a lot more in terms of awareness creation and special programs that target underprivileged women. In some countries even, IWD is officially a holiday where women are celebrated and honoured with gifts, so let us make a difference and make every day an International Women’s day. On International Women’s Day we wish all women in the field of medicine and research the best and willing support the Press for Progress.
- United Nations, International Day of Women and Girls in Science, http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/history.shtml, Accessed; 2018-03-07 15:17:54
- International Women’s Day 2018, https://www.internationalwomensday.com/, Accessed; 2018-03-07 15:19:34