Plight of deaf women in Ghana

Plight of deaf women in Ghana

Ms Yaghr(left) and Mrs Adjei (right)

Women in Ghana go through multiple chal­lenges ranging from emotional, psychological and economic trials.

They are often at the bottom of the social order with poor access to health, education, credit and access to land.

The situation is even more worrying if they have any form of disability.

In the case of the deaf women, they suffer discrim­ination and stigmatisation in areas such as health, educa­tion and commerce due to their inability to communicate effectively.

Deaf women are some­times misdiagnosed at the hospitals, cheated at the market places while others are denied education, an act which defeats the Sustainable Development Goals five and 10 which talks about gender equality and reduced inequal­ities.


In Ghana, according to the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC), about 470,737 people have some degree of hearing loss. Out of the number, 385,794 have some difficulties, 65,495 have a lot of difficulties while 19,448 cannot hear at all.

Two deaf women, Ms Christiana Yaghr and Mrs Mabel Mintaah Adjei, shared their experiences with The Spec­tator newspaper last Thurs­day, bringing to the fore the challenges they face in the health, education and other sectors of the country.

According to them the basic and common challenge to the deaf community is communication which they described as the pivot that all other problems revolved.

Mrs Adjei’s biggest concern is the treatment often meted to them at health facilities.

She explained that deaf women were sometimes de­layed at the hospital because health practitioners do not understand them and vice versa.

“We are unduly delayed at the hospitals to the extent that when those who can hear come to meet us at the hos­pital, they are attended to, leaving us sometimes to our fate,” she said.

Mrs Adjei said deaf women are denied information on breast cancer, menstruation, mental, sexual and reproduc­tive health as well as other ailments associated with women.

“Due to the inability to communicate, some deaf mothers do not know how to breastfeed their babies after giving birth or even know the right food to give the babies after weaning them; this is a big challenge,” she said.

Mrs Adjei said some hearing people refuse to transact business with the deaf, adding that “we can do everything hearing people do, we can engage in market­ing, advertisement and other businesses.”

According to Ms Yaghr who is currently studying Special Education at the University of Education, Winneba, her friend who was deaf, had to be operated on thrice during childbirth because she could not get the information being passed on to pregnant women at the antenatal sessions.

She said as a result, most deaf women do not visit the hospitals when they are either sick or pregnant.


Shedding more light on their plight, Ms Yaghr said, deaf women most often prefer to buy at the shopping malls and stores instead of the open markets because they feel safe and comfortable there.

She said at the shopping malls, they use a lot of ges­tures to express what they want to buy but at the open markets the market women sometimes try to cheat them which occasionally ends up in misunderstandings.

“We sometimes try to read the lips of the market women and ask the price of the items from different people be­fore settling on whom to buy from,” she added.

She noted that it was unfortunate some market women think they cannot cal­culate the things they buy, for which reason they attempt to inflate the prices.

This, according to her, makes it uncomfortable for them to buy at the market, hence the decision to buy from shopping malls and other outlets.

With regard to education, they both agreed that the fees were not expensive but what affects them was hiring a sign language interpreter.

Mrs Adjei who is studying Basic Education, Distance Learning option at the Uni­versity of Education, Winneba says “I pay my sign language interpreter GH¢700 a month, so you can imagine the money I would have paid my inter­preter after my education,” she added.

Both women called on the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) to lead the charge to fight stigmatisation and discrimination against the deaf women, stating that “our leaders must take our issues to the authorities.”


They said, once the advocacy on the adoption of Ghanaian Sign Language (GSL) is intensified and gains recognition by government as the official language for the deaf and legally backed and approved as one of the national languages, it would mitigate some of the chal­lenges encountered by them, especially the women.

“We have to start teaching sign language in schools to make it easier for the hearing population to know the right terminologies for the deaf and be able to communicate with them,” Ms Yaghr said.

“It is my hope that once the GSL is recognised and approved, Ghanaian sign lan­guage will be inculcated into the school’s curriculum and taught in schools.

“This will allow more hearing people to learn and appreciate sign language as well as study about deafness and promote socialisation and bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing community in the country,” she said.

Ms Yaghr said there was no difference between those who can hear and deaf women, and called on government to see to the healthcare and welfare needs of deaf women in the country.

She admitted that GNAD had organised some training on women’s health but was not enough as they were not able to reach out to hear­ing-impaired women in other parts of the country.

Mrs Adjei urged her col­league women to further their education as most of them had refused to continue after Junior High School (JHS), say­ing an educated woman was an empowered woman.

She again urged them to be confident, believe in themselves, have a positive mindset and use their talents judiciously.

By Jemima Esinam Kuatsinu

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