AFRICA · Ghana
An advocate for women’s skills and rights
Lydia Sasu (65) was born into a farming family in Ghana where she witnessed her mother struggle to make enough money to feed her family. Involved in agriculture from an early age, Ms. Sasu has dedicated her life to improving the lives of rural women farmers.
Lydia co-founded the Development Action Association (DAA) in 1977. The Association operates in 50 communities and 98% of the beneficiaries are rural women. The DAA has implemented many development projects including the construction of a nursery and a primary school, capacity building in financial management and rural women’s empowerment. Her creativity shines through in two key areas: improving literacy and bookkeeping for rural women’s business development (especially in the fishing industry), and building coalitions with both local men and women’s groups and international organizations to highlight women’s stake in the agriculture industry.
Learning numeracy and bookkeeping skills became an important focus of Ms. Sasu, who noticed growing tensions between men and women as women were unable to track debt and monetary records after buying fish from men. With Lydia’s help, in 6 months approximately 1,000 women were effectively trained in how to keep records of their fish stock. The long-term impact of this training has been that women have adapted skills of keeping records and accounts for their grains in other products including vegetables and livestock.
Ms. Sasu has also initiated training sessions targeting women farmers. In 2010, 60 women were trained in how to communicate effectively with policymakers by learning how to discuss key areas of concern through developing talking points. One example is when Lydia’s leadership helped motivate women to lobby the fishery commission for enforcement of fishing laws. Ms. Sasu’s support has allowed women in the community to be viewed as assets with valuable advice and a key part of the solution.
Lydia is a resourceful individual whose knowledge and skills have had a significant impact on the quality of life of rural women farmers. In 3 years, for example, Lydia’s training helped support one woman to grow her livestock business from 5 to 400 pigs. Ms. Sasu is a remarkable individual and an excellent example of the difference one individual can make in a community.