March 5, 2024

Leading with Purpose: GAPA’s First Female President’s Impact on Ghana’s Albinism Community

Women Impacted by Albinism

You cannot do it; you are a woman!  

Have you heard that statement before? That refrain echoed too often, and it wearied me that women were mostly confined to roles like Secretary, Treasurer, or Welfare Officer. In response? I defied those limitations and became the first and only female President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organization (GFD). 

Days like International Women’s Day serve as a poignant reminder of my journey. Flashbacks to my nine-year-old self resurface, particularly the deep hurt caused by my aunt’s comment during my fourth sibling’s naming ceremony. She insinuated that my parents had only started having normal children because he was born without albinism. That moment was particularly painful, much like when my classmates did not want my twin and me in the class photo due to their embarrassment.

More women with albinism should be deliberately targeted for capacity development to position themselves for better leadership opportunities.

Growing up, discrimination and stigma were all too familiar to me. Instead of succumbing to the weight of those challenges, I harnessed them as the driving force behind my passion for advocacy, especially for people with albinism. 

As I navigated through the ups and downs of adolescence, I realized that my experiences were not isolated incidents but part of a broader pattern of prejudice. Women are socialized to believe that some positions are only left for men, and society’s perception of women with albinism is often clouded by misconceptions and ignorance, which has made becoming an advocate for people with albinism not just a personal choice but a responsibility.

My journey led me to the helm of the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism (GAPA), where I found a platform to further amplify the voices of those who, like me, had been told they couldn’t simply because of their appearance. Our efforts extended beyond the organization’s core functions. We strategically established regional and district offices, placing leaders in key cities across Ghana, and through targeted media interactions, we actively raised awareness about albinism. 

In this role, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of collective action. We’ve worked tirelessly to raise awareness, educate communities, and advocate. Every achievement, no matter how small, was a step toward dismantling the barriers that have marginalized our community for far too long. Additionally, in 2018, my twin sister and I actively participated in the Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the UN headquarters, demonstrating our commitment to improving the rights of people with albinism globally.

“The most potent solutions emerge from the voices and experiences of those with albinism, lighting the path toward understanding and empowerment.” 

 I want to tell women with albinism and those impacted by it that it is crucial to cultivate self-confidence with intentionality. Seek out communities of inspiring women who share similar experiences; confidence stems from feeling comfortable in one’s skin, so protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays. 

Assuming the presidency of GAPA was a testament to the fact that, as a woman with albinism, I shattered the glass ceiling and inspired others to do the same.

For more information about Mawunyo and her work:

LinkedIn: Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah

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Written By:

Mawunyo Yakor-Dagbah

Mawunyo served as the National President of the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism and as Treasurer of the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum. Mawunyo is the first female President of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organization since the organization's inception in 1987 and the first Vice President of the West Africa Federation of the Disabled. She is also a Governing Board Member of the National Council on Persons with Disabilities, a Consultative Board Member of the Africa Albinism Network, and an Africa Centre for Retirement Research Advisory Board Member.

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