Monday, March 14, 2011

Gifty Anti - a gift to our women

Saturday, March 5, 2011 (The Mirror Pg 16/17)

By Rebecca Kwei
Perhaps her name Gifty inspires her to ‘be a gift onto others’ and that is why ever-bubbly broadcast journalist, Gifty Dansoa Anti, is using the media to ensure that women have a voice that is clearly heard by all.
She has taken a stand through her regular programme on television, The Standpoint, to create a vital platform for women to air their views on a wide variety of important matters.
According to Gifty, The Standpoint was born out of the frustration of sitting in a newsroom where issues regarding women and their empowerment were not given enough prominence.
Having watched The View, an American programme hosted by four females having fun while discussing serious issues, Gifty decided to have her own programme where she could freely talk about the things she was passionate about — issues affecting women and their well-being.
“We live in a society where women are seen in a certain light, especially women who are assertive. The Standpoint creates the environment where women speak frankly about issues and share experiences on how they have been able to survive and empower themselves so others can learn from them,” she stated.
As the world celebrates the 100th International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8, countless women (and men) who have committed themselves to improving the lives of women and girls around the world will be honoured. But there are many unsung women contributing their quota to women’s empowerment who also need to be inspired and celebrated.
Sitting with her in the airy corridor of the GTV Newsroom, Gifty said to date there had been 141 episodes of The Standpoint which had seen panellists discussing topics such as Is Marriage the Ultimate?, Dealing With a Broken Heart, Life Without a Biological Child, Cervical Cancer, Safe Pregnancy, Understanding the Pregnant Woman, Breast Cancer, Pregnancy Did Not Stop Me, Life With a Sickle Cell Child, Life With an Autistic Child, The Muslim Man and Gender Equality, Women and Politics, among others.
Since July 2008 when the programme started airing, it has caught on with many Ghanaians and also touched lives in so many ways.
Giving instances, Gifty said a mother who had sent her daughter out of the house because she was pregnant went in search of her after watching one of the programmes titled ‘Pregnancy did not stop me’.
She said after the programme, the mother called her (Gifty) and told her what she had done.
Fortunately, she found her pregnant daughter and took care of her till she delivered. The young girl is now back in school.
In another story, a young girl about to have an unsafe abortion and actually had the concoction she was about to drink by her, watched a discussion on “Meet the survivors” which featured two young single mothers and a rape victim. After the programme, she called Gifty who spoke to her mother. The good news is that she had a safe delivery and is now back in medical school.
A panellist on the programme which discussed “Life without a biological child” had her former in-laws calling her to apologise and tell her they did not realise what they had put her through.
There is also the story of a young professional lady living in an abusive marriage in the Upper West Region who also watched the programme on “Marital Abuse”. She sent an e-mail to Gift detailing all that she was going through and how she was ready to commit suicide because her parents and relatives were insisting she stay in the marriage.
“We got her some assistance. She moved out of home and, thankfully, her parents who were afraid to take her in or help her financially because of traditions and beliefs took her in and now she is gainfully employed and taking care of her sons,” Gifty said with pride in her voice.
“The testimonies by abused persons who have been on the programme have been amazing. Many have received apologies from the perpetrators. The show is inundated with calls and we have referred many women to specialists. Many women have written to say how liberated and enlightened they became after watching the programme,” she said.
“More men are freely exploring their feminine sides and want to appear on the programme,” she added with a giggle.
“The Standpoint is our way of supporting the struggle to empower women and the sensitisation through the power of the media has been obvious. Women talk openly and freely about so-called taboo topics,” she said.
For Gifty, although some strides had been made to empower women, there was still a long way to go and that it was first and foremost up to women to change their attitudes.
“It is not what society says. Women need to be stronger, assertive and believe in ourselves. It is not only unmarried women who can make it; you can be married and have it all. If you are not married, there is still a lot you can do.
“Every woman’s dream should be to be in a space where she can be all that she wants to be, married or single. And when you get into that space where you can be all that you want to be, you must hold on with passion, determination and focus, not letting anything push you out of that space.
Gifty, who is the last of eight children (four boys and four girls), had different professions in mind while growing up. She had wanted to be an air hostess, while her father, the late Samuel Anti, wanted her to be a lawyer. She also liked people in uniform but her dad would have none of that.
“My stint in the media was by accident,” she explained. Having failed to gain admission to read Land Economy at the university after completing Mfanstiman Girls’ Secondary School, one of her brothers encouraged her to apply to the Ghana Institute of Journalism.
Her first broadcast experience was at Joy FM where she was a regular panellist on the Young Generation and Every Woman programmes.
When she got the chance to do her National Service with GTV in 1997, her impressive output culminated in her moving from being a floor manager to hosting the Breakfast Show. She is now an Assistant Chief Editor.
“It is the way I was socialised. My father always told me, ‘for your good, not your goods’. So no matter where I find myself, I try and give of my best”.
She runs commentary on many state programmes, does live interviews and has also covered some international assignments. Locally, Gifty has covered stories from all the 10 regions of the country.
Gifty, who holds a Masters degree in International Journalism from City University in London, has also attended a number of training courses at the United Nations, the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and had internship at SABC-Africa in South Africa.
She hopes to produce more programmes in the future and also give young people the chance to host them.
In the next five years she is optimistic about setting up a production company to help abused children and women. But, ultimately, she is aiming at starting a home for the elderly where they can go for a hot meal every day.
“My ultimate satisfaction is the people whose lives I touch and the people I help. It is an explained feeling when you become the answer to someone’s problem, dilemma or challenge; the hero is someone’s life,” she said.
For all the guys who have their eyes on Gifty, it’s time to step back because she says she is seriously attached to a special person.
“When are the wedding bells ringing?” I asked.
“It will happen .... soon,” she said with a laugh.
The Standpoint is a private production by GDA Concepts. It is aired on GTV twice a week — 8.15 p.m. on Fridays and repeated at 2.30 p.m. on Tuesdays.

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