One in every three females in Ghana has experienced gender-based violence (physical, sexual, psychological, economic and social violence, harassment and forced confinement (Domestic Violence Act 232, 2007, GSS, 2016). Notwithstanding government and NGOs’ mitigation efforts, social and economic violence against women persist due to the local populations’ unyielding adherence to their cultural values and norms. In 2020, about 6,533 teenage pregnancies were recorded in the Upper East Region of Ghana among girls aged 10 to 14 representing a 38-percentage increase of 103 from 2019 to 142 in 2020 (Ghana Health Service). According to the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Network in the Upper East Region; poverty and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic among other things, have fuelled high rates of unintended teenage pregnancies and child marriages in the Region ( 2021). Gender-based violence (GBV) is still rife in Kusaal-speaking communities of the Upper East Region of Ghana (the least urbanised region with over 79% rural population) due to cultural resistance by the rural people and powerful traditional leaders (GSS, 2020; Oxfam, 2020).

Kusaal communities with population of about 24,658,823 are found around latitude 11.050000º N and longitude – 0.233333ºN with land space of 2,100 to 2,300 square kilometres. They have long seasons of drought, poor road networks, lack of potable water and electricity, instances of schools under trees and only one government hospital (GSS, 2012). Notwithstanding these challenges, research on the Kusaal language is gradually gaining attention in the literature (Abubakari 2018; Musah 2018; Eddyshaw 2019 among others). Below is a map of the Kusaug traditional area showing all the six district capitals.

Fig 1. Map of Kusaug traditional area in Ghana (Abubabari, n.d.)

There is an emerging generation of young educated people who have begun questioning and resisting the efficacy of practices such as child marriage, polygamy, female genital mutilation, teenage pregnancy, sexual, physical and psychological abuse. Thus, the outcomes of this project will empower women and girls to speak out as well as pursue education and or training aimed at making them self-sustaining economically in line with SDG 16.

The project’s main aim is to explore and analyze how GBV practices particularly child marriage, is represented in selected folktales, proverbs and songs among six Kusaal-speaking communities (Zebilla, Bawku, Garu, Tempani, Pusiga and Binduri) in Ghana. 

The planned activities included: 

1.    Capacity building training for field assistants on project ethics and safeguarding. 

2.    Field trips to the six (6) Kusaal-speaking communities to gather interview data. 

3.    Partnership with local artistes: Fati Osman (Singer) and local film producer – Winimi Productions, to produce songs, docudramas and short videos to create awareness and educate people against GBV.

The main intended outcome is to educate, empower and promote women’s participation in peace building and social transformation.



This section presents the purpose and scope of the project by interrogating the aim and objectives as well as research questions for the project.


The specific objectives are to:

a.    Explore how local popular arts frames GBV-related issues among the Kusaasi people.

b.    Examine the uses of popular arts and gratifications derived by the local people.

c.    Enlighten, educate and empower women and girls for social transformation.

The results will arm NGOs, local media, peer mentors, artistes and opinion leaders (particularly women and girls) with information on how to frame useful and gratifying popular arts so they become reference points for the identification and transformation of GBV-related social conflicts, coercion and injustice.

ii. Location: The locations are six Kusaal-speaking communities in the Upper East Region of Ghana. These communities are rural communities and we partnered with local artistes to achieve our intended objectives.

 iii. Research Questions

i.   How do local popular arts in Kusaal-speaking communities frame the GBV narrative on child marriage?

ii. What uses and gratifications do local people put to and derive from their popular culture

iii. How can local popular cultures be communicated effectively to educate women and girls for social transformation?


Data Collection and Research Activities

The project adopted a purely participatory and interpretivist qualitative approach. With the support of translators, interviews and selected folktales, songs, docudramas and proverbs in archival documents were transcribed and translated from Kusaal to English Language for documentary analysis. Further, open-ended semi-structured interviews were conducted with selected people in each community. Each interview session lasted not more than 45 minutes. Interviews were conducted at the preferred location of our participants.

Pilot Study

The Assin Fosu Municipality in the Central Region has been purposively selected for the pilot-testing of the instruments because the Central Region has similar characteristics as the project communities selected for inclusion in the study. Villages and small towns within the Assin Fosu Municipality are purported to have high incidents of child/early marriage among other incidents of GBV. The main aim of pre-testing the instrument was to ensure that interview participants for the project understand the questions and to allow the project team identify possible lapses for amendments.

Development and pre-testing of research instruments

Based on the aim and objectives of the study, research instruments were developed around the following variables –Framing of GBV and Popular Art, Cultural and Linguistic tools, Utility and Gratifications, Popular arts and Communication, Popular Culture, Education and Social Transformation

Equality, diversity and inclusion

To ensure equality, fairness and balanced representation, equal numbers of participants, both genders, were deployed so the data derived is practically gender representative and culturally reflective of their existing socio-cultural practices.

Ethics, safeguarding, risks and safety

In line with the University of Glasgow’s Code of Ethics, the principles of safeguarding was an inclusive requirement for which investigators and project team members adhered them to ensure the care and safety of interviewees. CUSP’s safeguarding videos and slides together with local ethics guidelines were used for training project team members through group discussions and role play to enable them reflect on the dignity of the interviewees so difficult life experiences of victims are discussed without causing harm to them or trespassing cultural norms. 


Abubakari, Hasiyatu. (2018). Aspects of Kusaal grammar: The syntax-information structure interface. Vienna: University of Vienna, PhD dissertation.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2014), Concluding observations on the combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of Ghana, Adopted by the Committee at its fifty-ninth session, meeting from 20 October to 7 November 2014.

Domestic Violence in Ghana: Incidence, Attitudes, Determinants and Consequences. 2016.

Eddyshaw, D. (2019). A Grammar of Kusaal: Agolle Dialect. Available online at

Ghana (1992), Constitution, Ghana (1998), Children’s Act (Act 560),

Ghana (2015), National Gender Policy: Mainstreaming Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment into Ghana’s Development Efforts

Ghana (2016), National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage in Ghana 2017-2026,

Musah, A. A. (2018). A grammar of Kusaal: A Mabia (Gur) language of northern Ghana. Berlin: Peter Lang