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The Queen Mothers: Ghanaian Traditional Female Leadership Support for Children and Youth Affected by HIV/AIDS

Our partnership with the Queen Mothers of the Manya Krobo region was formed with the knowledge that one of the most effective ways to fight poverty and the spread of HIV/AIDS is to increase access to education, especially for girls, and give the local community ownership of issues and of solutions. It is a grassroots process of development that lies in combining community capacity and effective partnerships with outside organizations like the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO). The Every Child is Our Child Program resulted from meeting directly with the Queen Mothers, learning about the community issues and having joint planning sessions to prioritize their requirements.

About Queen Mothers

In Ghana, the Queen Mothers have been serving their communities in a variety of functions, ranging from ancestral heads equal to the traditionally male chief to respected persons within the community charged with the responsibility of performing various traditional rituals and rites. The position of Queen Mother is inherited, and Queen Mothers are recognized as leaders of and custodians for girls and women, overseeing their transition from youth into adulthood and livelihoods. 

However, the role of the Queen Mothers in some traditional areas has been challenged in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Illiteracy, lack of resources, incomplete knowledge of HIV/AIDS and reproductive health and poor coordination among stakeholders have further constrained community intervention. The Queen Mothers' decision-making power and leadership skills need to be enhanced, and their role needs to be made more influential rather than simply symbolic and ceremonial.

In recognition of this threat to their traditional roles, the Queen Mothers of the seven regions in Ghana came together and formed the Queen Mothers Associations. The Associations are regionally based and have enabled the Queen Mothers to demand the restoration of their traditional roles and to be part of the decision-making process. Some chiefs are also supporting the female leaders in their bid to have representation at the national level (National House of Chiefs). In spite of the numerous obstacles to the Queen Mothers, they are still a formidable force within Ghanaian Society.

The Queen Mothers employ the influence and respect they command as community leaders to mobilize, educate and inform youth and women in the community about HIV/AIDS and related health issues. The Queen Mothers have received sensitivity training on issues of HIV/AIDS to reduce the stigma surrounding people who are living with the disease, as well as to provide HIV/AIDS prevention messages.The Queen Mothers and other traditional leaders also have been trained to educate girls on the implications of early pregnancy, abortion, and failure to attend antenatal clinics or hospitals when pregnant. 

In support of the leading role of the Queen Mothers in community care, the Every Child is Our Child Program builds on a traditional approach to orphan care. The Queen Mothers have organized in the Manya Krobo district and have welcomed up to 6 orphans into each of their homes. The Queen Mothers Association of Manya Krobo now supports nearly 600 orphans in the district and is expanding its support to a further 400 orphans in the neighboring Hiro Krobo district. 

With support from our Every Child is Our Child Program, the Queen Mothers Association pays for the orphans’ basic education. By doing this, we can share the burden of medical costs, food, clothing and miscellaneous expenses to provide comprehensive care for orphans.

Support the Queen Mothers Association

For additional ways to support the Queen Mothers Association, please shop Threads of Change to purchase beautiful textiles designed and created in Ghana and then handcrafted by Threads of Change in Los Angeles, California. A portion of all proceeds go to supporting the Manya Krobo Queen Mothers Association in Ghana. 

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