Panel discusses religion & reproductive rights in Ghana

Weekly seminar takes on theme during Black History Month

Whether religion is compatible with sexual and reproductive rights in contemporary Ghana was the discussion Thursday night as part of a seminar series hosted by Studies in National and International Development (SNID).

Coming from distinct professional backgrounds, panel members provided unique perspectives on gender, sex and religion in the developing country. 

SNID, a weekly seminar series that’s been running since 1983, hosts Canadian and foreign academics to discuss issues related to local, national and global development.   

Thursday’s panel discussion included Professor Jean Allman, director of the Centre for Humanities at Washington University; Kuukuwa Andam, Ghanian Lawyer; Dr. Sylvia Bawa, professor in Sociology at York University; and Daniel Asante Boamah, a PhD candidate at Queen’s.

Professor Allman described religion as a barrier for sexual and reproductive rights in contemporary Ghana. 

“A lot of the main line churches and the evangelical churches are actually taking very strong stances against women’s rights, and against sort of sexual rights,” Allman said. 

“I think there’s a strong feminist presence [in Ghana] that’s very schooled and strategic.”  

Event coordinator and SNID co-chair, Marc Epprecht, said he put the event together in the hopes of bringing awareness to lesser-known issues in Ghana. 

“The issues in Ghana resonate throughout the continent,” Epprecht said.

“Sometimes these panels talk about Africa as one big place, but I think we just heard Ghana as one small country that is really diverse. I think, personally, it is good for Canadians and Queen’s students to start thinking of Africa as the differentiated continent.” 

It’s also no coincidence that the event took place during Black History Month. 

“Ghana has a very special place in African history,” Epprecht said.

“In Black history, it was the first Black country to gain independence from the colonial power. And then the first president was a major voice for Pan-Africanism.”

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