Two gender rights activists have expressed various opinions on the President’s State of the Nation address delivered to Parliament last Tuesday.
One of the two, Mrs Dorcas Coker-Appiah, Executive Director of the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre (Gender Centre), called for the allocation of more resources for the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, while Mr Adolf Awuku-Bekoe, Convenor, Domestic Violence Coalition, said the address did not touch on any specific needs of women and children in the country.
Mrs Coker-Appiah said the increase in resource allocation would enable the ministry to fulfil its mandate of promoting the welfare and protection of women and children and empowering the vulnerable, the excluded, the aged and persons living with disability in society. She added that resources allocated to the ministry were woefully inadequate to enable it carry out its mandate successfully.
Apart from the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme (LEAP), which the President said would increase from its present 74,000 households to 100,000 by the end of the year and 150,000 by 2015, Mrs Coker-Appiah said there was no commitment on the part of the President in his address to help improve the situation of women and children.
She said the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), which the President said had helped in extricating numerous children from forced marriage, was also financially constrained.
No address on specific needs of women
Mr Awuku-Bekoe said that “women and children did not have any fix address in Ghana and therefore the President could not find them in his address”.
He said the address did not touch on any specific needs of women and children in the country.
He lamented the fact that the President referred to the LEAP project as the flagship of the MoGCSP, saying that this showed was sidelining of issues of women and children.
“LEAP is good and needs to be scaled up” but it cannot be the flagship of the ministry because “giving specific monies to women would not address most issues including child abuse and issues on women in leadership”.
Expressing his disappointment about the address not touching on the needs of women, he said there was no specific mention of dire issues such as shelter for the abused, strengthening DOVVSU among others.
President Mahama on Social Protection
In the President’s address last Tuesday, he said “the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection was a major vehicle in our effort to create an all-inclusive society; a society where the weak and disadvantaged also have an equal stake in our nation’s progress. Through this ministry, we are promoting the welfare and protection of children, we are empowering the vulnerable, the excluded, the aged, and persons living with disability and we are ensuring true gender equality”.
He said “we have worked on a number of legislations, including the Affirmative Action Bill, the Intestate Succession Bill and the Property Rights of Spouses Bill, adding that the government has also initiated the process for the validation of the Domestic Workers Regulation”.
These, he said, were pieces of legislation key to protecting the rights of our women and certain vulnerable groups in our society.
On the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme (LEAP), he said 74,000 of the poorest households have received various sums of monies as cash transfers to enable them to afford food, clothing and the cost of basic transportation, adding that these families would now have access to health care and education and also invest in some small income-generating activity.
The LEAP, he said, ensured that the most impoverished could live in dignity and also offered them hope in their future possibilities, and a chance to participate in the collective future of our nation.