Push for Affirmative Action Bill heightens as world marks int’l Women’s Day

The Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) is pushing the government to as a matter of urgency pass the Affirmative Action Bill and also ensure the appointment of 30 percent of women as chief executives in the district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies.

In a statement issued to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) today, CDD-Ghana has urged women to evaluate and intensify of their collective effort to advance the cause of women.

IWD is marked globally to raise awareness to concrete action and support for gender parity on March 8 every year and beyond.

This year, the campaign is on the theme, “Be Bold for Change”.

The Affirmative Action Bill, when passed into law, would provide legally mandated systems and policies to ensure women’s equal participation.

In June 2016 the Bill received cabinet ascent and has since been tabled before Parliament awaiting passage.

The Bill seeks a 40 percent representation and participation of women in governance, public positions of power and decision-making.

Meanwhile, CDD-Ghana is urging the Nana Akufo-Addo-led government to fulfil all campaign commitments made to Ghanaian women as captured in the New Patriotic Party (NPP), manifesto.

The campaign promises include appointment of women to at least 30 percent of available public positions, set aside 50 percent of Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC)funds for female applicants.

The CDD also wants the government to reactivate and strengthen the Gender Desks at all MMDAs/MDAs to give more recognition and focus on women and gender issues in the design and implementation of public policies and programs. 

The statement also called on the government to ensure that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) are well-resourced to engage in public education on some of the practices that are an affront to the progression of women and girls empowerment.

In the release, CDD-Ghana also condemned the growing cases of child marriage which is gaining prominence, particularly in the three regions in the north.

 Available information suggests that in Ghana, 1 in 4 women (27 percent) married before the age of 18.

Ghana’s gender parity situation

The fifth goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) hopes to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” by 2030.

Ghana currently ranks 59th most gender-equal country in the world according to the Global Gender Gap index, which is a ranking of 144 countries. The index is compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and looks at four key areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.

Ghana’s major strides at gender parity include the following:

• Setting up a Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVISU) in Ghana’s Police Service has enabled the Police Service to respond to several cases from family abuse of individual rights to rape and defilement.

• Amending the Criminal Code of 1998 to criminalise harmful widowhood rites and ritual servitude, now the law courts can interpret this law to pass judgement to such cases.

• Other important acts of legislation include the Human Trafficking Act, Disability Act and the Domestic Violence Law, which go a long way to support Ghana’s effort at ensuring compliance with human rights in general and women’s rights in particular.

• The measures in the health sector including free antenatal and delivery services throughout the country.

• The Accelerated Child Survival Development programme, for example, has reduced infant and child mortality by 50 percent in the Upper East Region with a significant reduction in maternal mortality.

• The national health insurance scheme covers children below 18 years of age, once their parents have registered.

• Public awareness programmes on the abortion law and on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies through family planning, as well as dangers of unsafe abortion, has been intensified.

Setbacks

These successes, notwithstanding, there is more that the country can do.

Opportunities and Resources: Most women in Ghana contribute in various ways towards food security and poverty alleviation through farming and small scale enterprises. Yet most agricultural and economic policies are not visibly inclusive of women. 

Access to and control of land: in certain communities, women are limited in the agricultural enterprise as they are unable to get access to land.

Inheritance practices: Even though there are laws such as the Inter-State Succession Law and others, some traditional norms obstruct gender equality and discriminate against females.

Participation in governance: Women’s participation in the power structure still stands at about 8.2% in parliament and even though there is an effort to use the quota system to create a balance in the proportion of women and men in the assemblies, there is still low representation of women in decision-making positions at district, regional and national levels. For example, the regional or district security councils often have just one woman to indicate “gender balance”.

Cultural practices: There are still several discriminatory social practices in prevailing cultural attitudes and societal codes evoked in the name of traditions and religion, which undermine the dignity and rights of women. Examples of these include witchcraft, widowhood rites, Female Genital Mutilation, forced marriage, widow inheritance, girl child betrothals and unintended consequences of dowry, etc which do not guarantee the liberty/freedom of women and render females secondary humans.

Examples of these include witchcraft, widowhood rites, Female Genital Mutilation, forced marriage, widow inheritance, girl child betrothals and unintended consequences of dowry, etc which do not guarantee the liberty/freedom of women and render females secondary humans.

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