Marian Karina Nanorki Darlington, Founder, Reproductive Justice Agenda, Ghana
“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body.”- Margaret Sanger
All through my years in school especially in the university and through my
association with friends and colleagues, I came to the realisation that, in Ghana,
there was little or no information out there on reproductive health, rights or access to
contraceptives. I was particularly surprised to learn that many people, though
sexually active had little or no knowledge on their options when it came to protection.
Condoms were the most common but even with those, not many people were
courageous enough to walk into a pharmacy to purchase some.
Culture and tradition in Ghana have made the subject of sex a sacred issue such
that parents are not ready to discuss it with their children. Peers who even talk about
it are seen as promiscuous and therefore “bad friends”. Even the media projects the
subject of sex in a negative manner. In effect, there was little or no discussion on sex
or reproductive rights in the country where I come from. The irony however is that
many of the young people in Ghana are sexually active despite that.
1. Young people in junior and senior high schools are sexually active despite the
fact that the main advocacy they receive in this area is on abstinence. Young
people in junior and senior high schools are advised to abstain from sex in
order to focus on their studies and to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
This leaves them with little or no information on how to protect themselves or
even what to do in that regard. They do not talk about it because of the stigma
that will be attached to them for being the ones who are ‘having sex’ amongst
2. One may think that at the university or college level and with that level of
education, people would know what their reproductive rights and options
were. I however find this is not the case. A lot of people at the universities,
colleges, other tertiary or higher institutions do not have enough information in
this regard and yet are very sexually active. Most people here depend on
either the condom or the emergency contraceptive (morning after pill, which is
not to be used as regular contraceptive method) for protection.
3. How about the high number of uneducated people or those not in schools?
How do they get information on their sexual or reproductive health and rights?
4. The issue of abortion. This is a very sensitive issue in Ghana. The issue of its
legality, the moral issue of right and wrong and the religious issue make
abortion a really sensitive area in Ghana despite the increasing rates
recorded. (To be clear, the Ghanaian law makes provision for abortion
services to be carried out by licenced professionals, at licenced centres and
under specified conditions.)
Teenage pregnancy, abortions, school dropouts, increase in poverty, child
marriages, forced marriage, gender based violence, etc
This was my inspiration for starting Reproductive Justice Agenda (RJA). It was about
time information and education was made available to the people. RJA is led by a
group of vibrant young women and men (from various fields of study and profession)
who are passionate about seeking the improvement in reproductive health and
rights. Our work is carried out in various areas of the country; junior high schools,
senior high schools, universities, communities and social media.
The goal of RJA is to provide accurate information and education on sexual health,
contraceptive methods and choices and to provide affordable (if not free) access to
them. This we do through reproductive health campaigns that we carry out in various
schools and communities, screening on many reproductive health related issues,
provision of contraceptives to members of the community and forming RJA clubs
where we groom members and equip them with the necessary skills to carry out
reproductive health and rights education elsewhere. We have also found that social
media is a very powerful tool one can use in the area of education and so we
regularly feed our Facebook and Twitter pages with educative information on
There is more to be done in the area of reproductive health and rights. The team
comes up with many fun, interesting and educative ways to involve young people in
active advocacy and campaigns. The vision is to engage in multi-pronged work that
includes advocacy, research projects, partnership with established advocacy groups,
conferences and meetings, dissemination of findings and analysis related to sexual
rights and reproductive justice through publication and reforming maternal healthcare
in Ghana. This we have started; reaching out, one person at a time.
My name is Marian Karina Nanorki Darlington. I am Ghanaian and I live in Ghana. I obtained my law degree (LL. B) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. I am currently pursuing my Barrister at Law programme at the Ghana School of Law.
I am passionate about women empowerment and a stern advocate for women and children's rights. I believe that women make great leaders no matter what community they come from. In Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey's words: "If you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation." I am strongly motivated towards creating opportunities for women to enable them being out the best in them to improve, first upon themselves and then their communities in order to make the world a better place.
I have worked in many areas and with many organisations that promote the well being of women and the girl child. I am Founder and Executive Director of Reproductive Justice Agenda, an NGO with the goal of improving and advancing reproductive health and rights in Ghana. I am also the Programme's Director of League of Young Female Leaders, also an NGO aimed at improving the social status of women and girls in Ghana. I am a Global Champion for Women's Economic Empowerment at Empower Women, a UN Women branch.