The Kayayei Transformation: Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia 

The Kayayei phenomenon is a significant economic activity among young women and girls from northern Ghana who migrate to the southern regions, particularly the Ashanti and Greater Accra regions, to work as head porters. The term “Kayayei” is derived from the Hausa word “Kaya,” meaning load or goods, and the Ga word “yei,” meaning female. These young women and girls, often between the ages of 10 and 17, leave their rural homes to seek better economic opportunities in urban areas, hoping to find easier access to resources and a more comfortable life.

Many of these girls are forced by their parents to work and contribute to the family income, while others flee arranged marriages or seek a better life. The Kayayei business is attractive to them because it requires no education or certification, just a head pan to carry customers’ loads. However, the work is poorly paid, forcing many to sleep on the streets or in front of shops, making them vulnerable to rape, teenage pregnancy, and exploitation.

In 2019, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia visited the Agbogbloshie head porters and promised to provide them with accommodation and training. He has since fulfilled his promise by commissioning two ultra-modern hostel facilities and skills training centers in Madina and Ashaiman, with more facilities under construction in the Ashanti and Eastern regions. These hostels provide a safe and supportive environment, equipped with beds, kitchen facilities, security, and training programs to empower these young women with entrepreneurship skills and sustainable economic opportunities.

The Kayayei program aims to transform the lives of female street hawkers and head porters, offering them a chance to leave the streets and build a better future. Dr. Bawumia emphasized the importance of empowering marginalized communities, stating, “It is a cause close to my heart as it addresses the plight of a marginalized segment of our society.” While the initiative has sparked debate, it has also brought hope and happiness to many Kayayei.

Source: Mavis Acquah

30th May, 2024

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