Traditional women leaders in Ghana are teaching other Ghanian women about their rights to abortion. According to Ipas, an international organization for reproductive rights, Ghana has one of Africa's most progressive laws on abortion, but few women are educated about their legal rights to abortion.
In Ghana, women who were raped or victims of incest have had the right to an abortion since 1985. Women can also have abortions if their pregnancy threatens their health, or if there is a possibility of fetal anomaly. However, few women can access safe abortions because of the lack of medical facilities that provide abortions. Few women even know that they are legally permitted to have abortions. To combat this, Women's eNews reports that queen mothers, women leaders in eastern Ghana, are using traditional gatherings to inform women about safe abortions.
Queen mothers hold public health meetings once a month to talk about teen pregnancy, safe sex, and abortions. Nana Yaa Daani, one of the traditional leaders, told Women's eNews, "As a queen mother Iím seen as a leader of the community so what I say carries weight. Iím a leader, theyíll listen to me."
Daani began talking about abortion when she realized how uneducated women, including herself, and hospital workers were about the law in Ghana. Ipas (see PDF) reports that "Less than one in five health workers were aware of all the legal indications for termination in Ghana."
The World Health Organization reports that the maternal mortality rate is 560 women out of 100,000. Koma Jehu-Appiah estimates that 20 to 30 percent of maternal mortalities are the result of botched abortions.
Media Resources: Women's eNews 03/09/08; Ipas Ghana; World Health Organization Mortality Country Fact Sheet