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Let's Talk Human Rights

2023 Summer Fellowship: Akwaaba with IGED

By Aj√° McMichel '24

I had the opportunity to work with the Initiative for  Gender Equality and Development in Africa (IGED) this summer in Ghana, which is a nongovernmental organization established in 2011. IGED seeks to promote gender equality, empower women and strengthen the voice, capacity, and participation of women and young people in the realization of their rights and development processes. IGED aims to change the mindset and attitudes of individuals, communities, and societies through research, capacity-building advocacy, and strategic litigation to enhance the lives of women and young girls. 

During my time at IGED, I was tasked with producing a concept paper that consist of the foundation of research on how General Comment No. 6 on Article 7(d) on the Maputo Protocol of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights can be adapted to different countries to ensure women's rights to property and land in the case of divorce, separation, or annulment. To execute this paper I did extensive desk research and contextual analysis of the state of women’s rights to land and property in relation to their marital status in four different countries, Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa and Egypt to represent each of the regions of Africa. I analyzed women's access to land, how their marital status affects their ability to buy and/or own land, religious limitation and mediation of land distribution in the dissolution of a marriage and cultural practices that may influence the attitude around women receiving land in a legal dispute between spouses. In many cases was also tasked with producing a concept paper on how IGED can increase engagement and visibility across all social media platforms. 

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I’ve learned so much about myself and human rights during the last 2 months in this fellowship. This being my first time out of the country, I can honestly say this was the experience of a lifetime professionally and personally. Professionally I feel more confident in my ability to produce good work. Personally, during my trip to Cape Coast I had time to visit the dungeons that the enslaved were kept in before they were shipped to the “new worlds.'  During this trip I had time to reflect on my position as an African American woman. I found a new appreciation of both sides of my identity as an American by birth and my ancestry. I’ve always been open to different cultures and perspectives but seeing it in person in real time is so different from reading about it. My time in Ghana is something that I will never forget and has changed my perspective on life. From the 20-minute drive to work, trying new foods, the lively nightlife, long days in the office, and restless nights, I am forever grateful.

igedgroup.jpegThis trip/research was fully funded through the Daniel J. Curran and Claire M. Renzetti Scholarship Fund for International Studies.


Ajá McMIchel is a Psychology major, a minor in Anthropology. She is from Indianapolis, Indiana.  She is very involved in the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center on campus. She serves as President of Black Action Through Unity (BATU) and Women of Remarkable Distinction (WORD). She is also a research assistant and campus ministry intern. Post-Grad, she plans on working on starting my nonprofit organization that is focused on serving and mentoring underprivileged girls and women in urban communities. 

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