In this era where empowerment of the girl-child is on every lawmaker’s list, getting more women to help achieve this is key to its success. On Game Changers today, we are looking at the contributions of a young lady who aims to empower other young girls and ladies to become awesome women capable of transforming Africa. She is Lilipearl Baaba Otoo, a journalist and gender activist.
Who is Lilipearl Baaba Otoo
Lilipearl is from Saltpond and born to Mr. And Mrs. Otoo. She attended Ministry of Health Basic School, Asesewa Senior High School and Ghana Institute of Journalism. She currently practices journalism and runs an NGO known as Bridge For Equity Ghana.
Lilipearl had always dreamt of becoming a journalist and nothing has ever come between her and that dream.
“…I must say, I’m living my dreams! I’m naturally a problem solver. I’m driven by finding solutions to problems”, she told Wundef.com.
Miss Baaba loves to communicate and engage in conversations as well. She talks a lot and is a “a public person.”
“I’m able to engage people and endure conversations that I am not interested in. So journalism came naturally to me”, she revealed.
To hammer on issues affecting her surroundings and the nation as a whole, she just followed what she could do best.
“It’s been easy and I never get bored or think twice of switching. Journalism is not a phase for me. It’s my game. It’s my job and I have so much fun doing it. It doesn’t even feel like work anymore”, she added.
Currently, Lilipearl runs an NGO known as Bridge for Equity Ghana that is geared towards creating awareness and public education on the United Nations’ SDGs particularly Goal 5 which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Bridge for Equity Ghana runs two major programmes namely; My knowledge to the community and Skills development program.
So far, under ‘My Knowledge to the Community’, they have been able to train about 350 high school students on gender discrimination and women empowerment dubbed “The High School Engagement Tour”.
They have also visited orphanages, empowered 30 girls at the Ghana Planetarium to encourage them to pursue STEM education and debunk the notion that STEM is difficult.
They had another High School Engagement but only with Boys dubbed: “What about boys; Raising boys right” to mark International Day of the girl.
Also, they are partnering with Plan Ghana, an NGO to groom and prepare selected girls from rural communities for the ‘Girls Take Over’ campaign. These girls will have the rare opportunities of taking the roles of prominent people in the country such as Affail Money, Madam Rebecca Akuffo-Addo (First Lady of Ghana), High commissioners and the likes. They will go to their offices and occupy their various positions and take over their roles and normal duties for a day. This initiative is to encourage these girls to understand that ANYTHING and everything is possible if they set their minds to it.
Under ‘Skills Development Program’, they have enrolled and self-funded 5 people (4 ladies and one gentleman) to pursue skills training in pastries for free for a three-month period. Currently two of them run their own businesses and one has been employed by a Bakery.
They have also enrolled nine (9) ladies and a gentleman as 2nd batch to be trained on the making of pastries for free.
A local professional seamstress has, after a discussion with her, agreed to train three (3) ladies in dressmaking for free.
“We have a free breast cancer screening in collaboration with Medicas Hospital to mark pink October”, she revealed.
“So basically what we do is to empower and educate ALL to know that Gender Discrimination is not a woman issue, it is a human issue”, she added.
How She started
Miss Baaba’s motivation for starting Bridge For Equity Ghana was birthed right from Secondary school after she had been trained and exposed to gender discrimination. She had been facing all forms of gender discrimination but she had no idea what it was. She has always been a strong gender advocate however she didn’t even know there was a recognisable term for who she was. So when Plan International went to her school for a training programme, she knew she had to liberate other women and girls from being discriminated. She had a sense of freedom and security which she believed strongly that every girl had to be exposed to it. So at the University, she started Bridge For Equity Ghana but under the name, “We Call it Love”. She renamed it to Bridge for Equity Ghana after a friend who is also a team member and very dedicated to the cause suggested it.
“I won’t say it is a challenge. It is basically restructuring to get funds from another source instead of self funding and appealing for funds”, Ms. Baaba elaborated.
Bridge for Equity Ghana plans to set up a bakery and employ all those people they have trained and are training for free to bake and sell, then they can channel the money back into the business. Those already trained will also train the next batch of trainees.
Lilipearl was involved in the UNICEF GIFTS programme where they went to Dambai in Krachie East District to provide girls with Iron and folic acid to boost their blood. Research conducted by UNICEF prior to the activity revealed that most girls in the area were anemic.
She was also involved in the One Friend, One Pad Project by fanthonio.net.
Lilipearl was involved in the Plan Ghana Girls Making Media Project of giving back to society. The girls making media was a project that geared towards education on gender discrimination and women empowerment. At the end of the project 10 of them were selected for merit-based scholarships out of about 300, to pursue journalism. At the end of the program, the benefiaries decided to give back to society by going back to their various communities that they were picked from to also educate them on gender related issues.
Lilipearl also volunteered for Oheneyere Gifty Anti in giving free medical screening to head potters in Accra.
Moreover, she was also involved in the FUSAID campaign of ending Violence Against Women.
Plans for the next decade
In the next ten years, I see myself fully running Bridge For Equity Ghana and creating employment for dozens of people. I see myself as a global changer. My works of bridging the gender gap will be heard all over the world and I see myself getting people, especially girls, liberated from gender discrimination. In 10 years, I will be one of the top 10 names mentioned as people who have contributed and fought to bridging the gender gap significantly. I see myself raising mentees who will become mentors and follow my foot steps and even do more than I did or would have done. In 10 years, I see myself running a movement that shifts people’s perception of gender discrimination as being just an issue that needs to be addressed only for women and by women. In ten years, I will change mind-sets on gender issues and most importantly create more employment that leads to financial liberation
The two major programmes I run will definitely see this come into fruition.
Regrets in Life
“To be honest with you I haven’t really thought about this before and I still can’t come to terms with any decision I have ever taken that I’d love to change if I had second chance.”
“I love love love every choice I’ve ever made. Never regretted any. Maybe the only thing I regret is believing that my crush was 27 instead of 36. Never felt more naive!”, she said amidst laughter.
Advice for Young people
“Pray pray pray and Pray! Consult God in everything you do especially if you’re Christian. One prayer I pray everyday even if I am too lazy to talk to God is to say “Lord please order my steps and let your perfect will be done. I don’t need your permissive will. Just your perfect will.”.
“This has and will always be my driving force. Maybe that is why I probably have no thoughts on changing any decision I have ever made.”
“Secondly, have a Plan. Don’t do just anything because everyone else is doing it. Sometimes you can be driven by admiration and not passion. And eventually, you get frustrated. When you’re not passionate about something, you get tired. You never have much energy to fuel your activities. Then all of a sudden it looks difficult and it seems like a hurdle. Eventually you will give up. So I’d say, have a Plan. Decipher between admiration and passion. Most people run or set up organisations because they want to belong. There is no clear distinct activity of what they do. Today, you see them do This, then another time it’s something else. It doesn’t have to be try and error. Have a proper plan of execution and ask questions like “Is this what I really want to do? I’d rather you take time to search your soul for your calling. It’s better to start late and succeed than to start early and flop.”