When Women Speak
A teacher’s guide to using the film in the classroom
This guide is for teachers working with students in the final two years of senior high school, and at all levels of the university. It suggests questions that students could be asked to answer in relation to all or parts of the documentary film, When Women Speak. It indicates which questions can be answered purely based on the film, and which ones would require additional research that could be carried out by individual students or by students working in groups. It also points to some additional resources that students could use. Teachers are invited to select from and adapt the questions, depending on the level at which their students are working, how much time they can spend on these exercises, and their access to additional resources.
Short factual questions for an after-film quiz.
1. Who was Ghana’s first woman High Court judge?
2. Were there any women parliamentarians in the time of President Kwame Nkrumah
and the Convention People’s Party?
3. What year did the United Nations designate as the International Women’s Year?
4. Identify any two women in the film who were involved with the National Council on
Women and Development (NCWD) in Ghana.
5. Identify any two issues on which the NCWD focussed its efforts.
6. Who was editor of the Daily Graphic at the time of the 4th June 1979 coup?
7. Who led the 31st December Women’s Movement?
8. What was the purpose of the Intestate Succession Law?
9. What is the CEDAW?
10. What is the Women’s Manifesto for Ghana?
Questions for an in-class discussion or debate.
These questions could be discussed / debated in class purely based on the film. But students could also be asked to refer to the list of resources below, in order to prepare more in-depth answers, depending on the level at which they are working and the time available.
1. Opponents of gender activism sometimes argue that feminism is a western import
that does not fit with Ghanaian culture. Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer.
2. Is it either possible or desirable to separate ‘women’s issues’ from politics in
general? Give reasons for your answer.
3. Is an Affirmative Action Law necessary to address the under-representation of
Ghanaian women in public life? Give reasons for your answer.
Questions that require further research.
Each of these questions contains several components. Whilst some could be answered by an individual student purely based on the film, an in-depth answer would require further research. Students could therefore be divided into groups, with each student researching one of the components (using the list of resources below), and then presenting their findings together, as a group.
1. Assess the impact of international women’s initiatives in Ghana. You may wish to
consider some or all of the following:
the International Women’s Year (1975)
the World Conferences on Women (Mexico City 1975, Copenhagen 1980, Nairobi
1985, Beijing 1995)
the Beijing Platform for Action.
2. Evaluate the successes and challenges of women’s organisations under different
governments of Ghana. You may wish to consider some or all of the following:
The CPP government led by Kwame Nkrumah (1951 to 1966)
military and single-party governments (NLC 1966-9, NRC / SMC I / SMC II 1972-1979,
governments elected by multi-party elections since 1992.
3. Identify any two issues on which Ghanaian women’s organisations have sought
reforms to the law. To what extent has legal reform succeeded in bringing about the
expected social changes? Those marked * are addressed in the film.
Maintenance of Children
Age of Consent
These may be more suitable for students embarking on postgraduate research projects.
Assess the number and range of women who appear in the film. What were the advantages and disadvantages of the sample and selection? Would you do things differently, and if so what and how?
Can you anticipate any ways in which carrying out interviews on camera might be different from carrying out interviews off camera? Consider this from the perspective of both the interviewer and the interviewee.
The film does not have a narrator, nor is the interviewer shown. What are the advantages and disadvantages of presenting interview footage in this way?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of presenting research findings as a documentary film, as compared to academic journal articles, academic books, blogposts or other popular media?
What questions would you like to ask the film director and the research team about this documentary film?
Some short accessible readings to support students’ learning from the film.
The Archive of Activism project produced a series of short blogposts that are all easily available on open access and might be used to introduce students to some relevant topics.
Blogpost on Dr Esther Ocloo and the Women’s World Banking initiative:
Blogpost on Justice Annie Jiagge:
Blogpost on Affirmative Action in Ghana:
Blogpost on local government, cancelled referendum (2019), and political participation of women in Ghana:
Blogpost on key challenges facing the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection in 2021:
Readings to extend beyond the film (These are not intended as an exhaustive bibliography).
Adomako Ampofo, Akosua. 2008. Collective Activism: The Domestic Violence Bill becoming Law in Ghana. African and Asian Studies 7(4): 395-421.
Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Josephine Beoku-Betts and Mary Osirim. 2008. Researching African Women and Gender Studies: New Social Science Perspectives. African and Asian Studies 7(4): 327-341.
Aidoo, Agnes Akosua. 1985. Women in the History and Culture of Ghana. Research Review 1(1): 14-51.
Apusigah, Agnes. A. 2009. The gendered politics of farm household production and the shaping of women’s livelihoods in northern Ghana. Feminist Africa 12: 51–68.
Atobrah, Deborah and Albert Adewoba. 2018. A Trail Blazer, An Outstanding International Jurist, A Humanitarian, An Ecumenical Christian and more… The Life of Justice Annie Jiagge (nee Baeta). In Mercy Akrofi-Ansah and Esi Sutherland-Addy (eds), Building the Nation: Seven Notable Ghanaians (Legon: Institute of African Studies): 1-61.
Allman, Jean. 2009. The Disappearing of Hannah Kudjoe: Nationalism, Feminism and the Tyrannies of History. Journal of Women’s History 21 (3): 13-35.
Amenumey, D. E. K. 2002. Outstanding Ewes of the Twentieth Century: Profiles of Fifteen Firsts (Accra: Woeli). [See in particular chapter 8 on Justice Annie Jiaggie.]
Amoah-Boampong, Cyrelene. 2018. Historicising the Women’s Manifesto for Ghana: a culmination of women’s activism in Ghana. Legon Journal of the Humanities 29 (2): 26-53.
Bauer, Gretchen. 2017. ‘Did you see what happened to the market women?’ Legacies of military rule for women’s political leadership in Ghana. Contemporary Journal of African Studies 5 (1): 31-59.
Bauer, Gretchen and Akosua Darkwah. 2020. ‘We Would Rather Be Leaders Than Parliamentarians’: women and political office in Ghana. European Journal of Politics and Gender 3 (1): 101-119.
Cusack, Kathy and Takyiwaa Manuh (eds). 2009. The Architecture for Violence Against Women in Ghana (Accra: Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre). Ekow Daniels, W. C. 1987. Recent Reforms in Ghana’s Family Law. Journal of African Law 31 (1-2): 93-106.
Gadzekpo, Audrey. 2005. The Hidden History of Women in Ghanaian Print Culture. In Oyèrónkè Oyěwùmí (ed), African Gender Studies: A Reader (New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan): 279-295.
Mama, Amina. 2020. ‘We will not be pacified’: from freedom fighters to feminists. European Journal of Women’s Studies 27 (4): 362-380.
Mama, Amina, Dzodzi Tsikata and Rose Mensah-Kutin. 2005. In Conversation: the Ghanaian Women’s Manifesto Movement. Feminist Africa 4 [https://feministafrica.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/fa_4_in_conversation.pdf]
Manuh, Takyiwaa and Nana Akua Anyidoho. 2015. To Beijing and Back: reflections on the influence of the Beijing conference on popular notions of women’s empowerment in Ghana. IDS Bulletin 46 (4): 19-27
Manuh, Takyiwaa. 1997. Wives, Children and Intestate Succession in Ghana. In Gwendolyn Mikell (ed), African Feminism: the Politics of Survival in Sub-Saharan Africa (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press): 77-95.
Manuh, Takyiwaa. 1993. Women, the State and Society under the PNDC. In Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi (ed), Ghana under PNDC Rule (London: CODESRIA): 176-195.
Manuh, Takyiwaa. Women and their Organisations under the Convention People’s Party. In Kwame Arhin (ed), The Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah (Accra: Sedco): 101-127.
Miescher, Stephan, Takyiwaa Manuh and Catherine Cole. 2007. Introduction: when was gender? In Catherine Cole, Takyiwaa Manuh and Stephan Miescher (eds), Africa After Gender? (Bloomington: Indiana University Press): 1-14
Oduyoye, M. 2009. Catalyst, Resource or Roadblock? A Critical Examination of the Christian Religion and Violence Against Women and Children in Ghana. In Kathy Cusack and Takyiwaa Manuh (eds), The Architecture for Violence Against Women in Ghana (Accra: Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre): 129-158.
Opong, Adwoa Kwakyewaa. 2012. Rewriting Women into Ghanaian History 1950-66. MPhil thesis, University of Ghana. https://ugspace.ug.edu.gh/handle/123456789/5452 Prah, Mansah. 2004. Chasing Illusions and Realising Visions: reflections on Ghana’s feminist experience. Gender Activism and Studies in Africa 3: 27-47.
Tsikata, Edzodzinam. 1989. Women’s Political Organisations 1951-87. In Emmanuel Hansen and Kwame Ninsin (eds). The State, Development and Politics in Ghana (Dakar: CODESRIA): 73-93.
Tsikata, Dzodzi. 2009. Women’s Organizing in Ghana since the 1990s: from individual organizations to three coalitions. Development 52 (2): 185-192.
Tsikata, Dzodzi. National machineries for advancement of women in Africa: Are they transforming gender relations? Third World Network, Africa.
Sackeyfio Lenoch, Naaborko. 2018. Women’s International Alliances in an Emergent Ghana. Journal of West African History 4 (1): 27-56.
Skinner, Kate. 2020. Gendering Citizenship and Decolonizing Justice in 1960s Ghana: revisiting the struggle for family law reform. American Journal of Legal History 60 (3): 357-387.