Nana Oye Lithur’s ‘fights’ receives recognition

nana_oye_lithur.jpgThe activism of Ghanaian Civil Society Organizations for gender
equality and empowerment received a major boost on Wednesday as the
United Nations "Global MDG3 Torch Campaign," was handed over to Nana
Oye Lithur to give the campaign new impetus.

The
campaign focuses at giving the torch to people who are committed to the
global crusade for gender equality and empowerment to encourage them to
do "something extra for women".

Other Gender Equality and
Empowerment Torch bearers in Ghana are Ms. Anna Bossman, Acting
Commissioner of CHRAJ as well as Ms. Adisa Lansah Yakubu, Project
Co-ordinator of Africa 2000 Network.

Speaking at a recognition
and handing over ceremony in Accra, Mr Flemming Pedersen, Danish
Ambassador to Ghana, commended Nana Oye, who is the African Regional
Coordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, for her
tireless efforts towards raising the status of women in Ghana.

Mr
Pedersen said Nana Oye’s acceptance to become a torch bearer put her in
the category of committed people who had pledged to "do something
extra" in support of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment
in Ghana.

The Danish Government has decided to champion the
third Millennium Development Goal as part of the United Nations-led
international campaign for the MDGs which would culminate in an MDG
high level event on September 25 in New York.

The final torch
would be lit by Mr Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General, at a high level
event, and a catalogue of commitments from champion torch-bearers all
over the world would be handed over to the UN.

He said
empowerment of women was one of the key priority areas guiding
Denmark’s development policy to reduce poverty. He said the Danish
Government sought to promote sustainable development through pro-poor
economic growth, equal participation by men and women in the
development process, and promotion of respect for human rights,
including women’s rights.

Mr Pedersen said the Global Call to
action was not the only intervention Denmark was undertaking in this
direction. In 2007, Denmark launched its Africa Strategy which aims at
increasing development assistance to Africa. He said Denmark recognized
that women in Africa suffered particularly from poverty, environmental
degradation and lack of access to opportunities for sustainable
livelihoods, and also from poor governance. Therefore, a key component
of the Africa Strategy is a focus on gender equality to secure women’s
rights and create growth. In this light, the Danish Government has
allocated GH¢145 million for interventions on women’s empowerment in
various countries from 2008 to 2012.

Nana Oye recounted her
passion against injustice which translated into student activism at the
University of Ghana and Ghana School of Law, women’s rights work with
the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA Ghana, the African
Women Lawyers Association, and finally human rights work with the
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

She said the prime
reason for accepting the Torch was to enable her to contribute to
achieving gender equality and serve the Ghanaian community and the
Commonwealth. "I also believe that we will not achieve the other
Millennium Development Goals if we do not work towards achieving gender
equality. I am in a position to do things in addition to interventions
already planned in respect of the economic and social development of
women in Ghana. More importantly, I am committed to this cause of
gender equality," she said.

Nana Oye said she would use the
Torch to focus on helping to eliminate gender disparity in secondary
education in the Nkwanta District, Hohoe Municipality both of the Volta
Region and in the Shama Ahanta District of the Western Region. "I
believe that focusing on increasing female enrolment in secondary
education in Ghana will ultimately lead to economic benefits for the
women and the society as a whole.

"Women would get better
employment with higher education, and would have more opportunities to
participate in public life. It will also positively affect the health
and nutritional state of children, should they decide to marry and bear
children in future. It will increase the self worth and dignity of
women in Ghana and improve our values as Ghanaians," Nana Oye said.

She
said in Nkwanta District 76 percent of the population was in rural
areas, school attendance was poor and there were twice as many boys in
basic education as girls.

Many girls in Nkwanta do not
complete their education. From 2002 to 2003, girls’ enrolment has been
higher than that of boys and this shows that there is a growing
awareness to send girls to school. Nana Oye said in most developing
countries, gender disparities became more glaring when girls entered
secondary schools and went to university.

"I will start a
mentoring programme not only for the brilliant, but for girls who show
promise and are committed to staying in school to learn. I will also
start a programme to encourage girls in these areas to take up
education more seriously; it will be called ‘Show by example’.

"There
will also be an advocacy monitoring programme to assess performance and
the quality of education in these districts. It will be piloted in
Nkwanta and replicated in Hohoe and Shama. It is an arduous task but
can be accomplished with cooperation and commitment," Nana Oye stated.

Source: GNA