Blindfolded Woman in Accra, Ghana (Filmstill: Contradict, Thomas Burkhalter & Peter Guyer, Switzerland/Ghana 2020)

If Women Ruled The World in Ghana

When Peter Guyer and Thomas Burkhalter were filming Contradict, they worked with female Ghanaian creatives to assemble a portrait of a generation tackling the post-colonial struggles, and how they see feminism after it gained an increasing global presence. They asked: what would they do differently if women ruled the world?

According to Akosua Adomako Ampofo, a Professor of African and Gender Studies at The University of Ghana, women have been socialised to be communally-focused and conscious about planning for the future – and the betterment of future generations. «I don’t want to set women up as saints, I don’t think that we are inherently kinder or more generous», she elaborated – and she didn’t think the female perspective were being properly capitalised on by society, especially around business or governance practices, which to her, was a mistake.

«There’s enough research to tell us that when women are the heads of corporations – women CEOs for example – they are more likely to produce a dynamic within the corporation that pulls more people along», Professor Adomako continued.

The profit may be slower in appearing, but it’s more likely to benefit more people. So, if women ruled the world, maybe we would have less inequality, maybe we would see the resources being spread around a little bit more. Perhaps, because we’ve been at the receiving end of more injustice as a group than men, we will be a little more sensitive to other people’s struggles; perhaps.

Photo from the website www.ghanafeminism.com, Ghana 2015

Female Empowerment

Guyer and Burkhalter, and Nana Akosua Hanson, the broadcaster, television host and activist who assisted them with interviews on their final filming trip, posed similar questions to other women from the creative fields. Yaba Armah enthused about having parents who were comfortable with her ditching a corporate career to pursue making a living as a writer. From their perspective, they’d struggled so that she could have a better life – part of that meant having the freedom to follow her dreams. «I feel extremely lucky to be a woman in this age», she said.

The videographer Sharifa Issaka echoed Armah’s sentiment. «I’d rather be a woman now than 50 or 100 years ago, but there are still strides to be made, for sure», she said. Issaka noted that after her father had encouraged her to pursue a creative career, she might not have had that sort of family support in an earlier era. «There is a female empowerment movement going on, and I’m proud to be in the generation where it is taking place», said the Ghanaian-Nigerian musician Adomaa.Initial enthusiasm notwithstanding, Adomaa was pragmatic about the prospect of a world ruled by women:

I might not be here to see this, but maybe in the next thousand years, it will get to the point where women are actually in control and running things. When this documentary comes out, make sure you preserve it. In a thousand years, people can go back into the archives and see that Adomaa said that women would take over the world first.

«We Are on Our Way»

Over the course of shooting for Contradict, some topics recurred: Socialisation, and how in a society led by women, qualities coded as female could be used to improve the world. When she was discussing feminism and minority representation in the Ghanaian music industry with Hanson, the Ghanaian-Burkinabe musician Ria Boss said:

Conservative traditions are part of what makes our society what it currently is. From birth, they’re telling you things about man and woman, and we’re always told that women are more submissive. That’s probably why the men seem to take over, but we can do it too. It might be a long way to go, but I think we’ve started, we are on our way, slowly.

Another theme was the value of equality. In general, the women interviewed were more concerned with the idea of a balanced world than they with imagining an inversion from patriarchy to matriarchy. «I feel there’d be different problems. There will always be problems. I don’t think it matters who is in charge», said Issaka and continued:

It’s more about having checks and balances. I think having input from a variety of people is the key for a better world, not necessarily one gender or another being in charge. Our needs just need to be balanced. That way, you get the benefits of being a woman, and you get the benefits of being a man, both complementing each other.

Less War?

Armah was also concerned with the limitations of thinking in dichotomous terms:

I wouldn’t necessarily say we’d have less war, but I think we’d make better decisions about when to go to war. It’s funny, because men often say that women are emotional, but I think men have a hair-trigger reaction to things, whereas women generally are a bit more into weighing the pros and cons of things which can be a benefit or a negative.

Across the conversations Guyer, Burkhalter, and Hanson conducted, their interviewees understood the social frameworks they’d been raised under and wanted more for the future than just a simplistic hierarchical reshuffle. Their concerns were mainly about continuing to learn from the mistakes of the past, while sensitively striving towards something new.

Links

This article has been produced in the course of the film project «Contradict Ideas for a New World» by Peter Guyer and Norient founder Thomas Burkhalter (Switzerland/Ghana 2020). More info on www.contradict-film.com.

Published on March 03, 2020

Last updated on April 05, 2020

Biography

Martyn Pepperell is a freelance jornalist, broadcaster and DJ from Wellington, New Zealand. He writes about music and the cultures that surround it. Martyn’s work has been published and broadcast by Boiler Room TV, Dash Radio (US), Dublab (US), Dummy (UK), i-D, Junkee (AU), Newtown Radio (US), Noisey, The 405 (UK), The State (AE), Radio New Zealand, Red Bulletin, Red Bull Studios and Resident Advisor. This year he has shared showbills with Le1f, The Internet, Nai Palm, Swooping Duck, Cut Off Your Hands, FIS, Sui Zhen, Julianna Barwick, UV Boi, Aldous Harding and Leonard Charles.
All Topics

Special