General News of Monday, 13 March 2017
The Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) Ghana, a women empowerment organisation, in collaboration with IBIS, an organisation committed to educational development, has organised a workshop to deliberate on the gender policies and laws being operated in the country, 60 years after independence.
The workshop brought together stakeholders of gender, children and social protection to ensure the implementation of policies and programmes to promote gender equality through mainstreaming gender considerations, and promoting the welfare and protection of children.
n a presentation, the Programme Manager of WILDAF, in charge of Governance, Mr Frank Bodza, said laws such as provisions under Article 27 of the 1992 Constitution, which relate to equality and freedom from discrimination, had already been amended to ensure gender balance as provided in Article 27 of the Constitution that had not been achieved.
He, therefore, called for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into law to urge the government to ensure equitable gender representation at all levels, be it public service, ministerial positions, independent constitutional bodies, boards of state institutions, security services and political parties.
Mr Bodza said there should be an expanded definition of sexual harassment in the Labour Act to include situations of hostile work environment and harassment, adding that women should feel safe at the workplace without any hindrance.
According to him, sexual harassment in a hostile environment occurred when an employee was subjected to unwelcome advances, sexual innuendos of offensive gender-based language that was severe or pervasive.
To address stereotypes about women, Mr Bodza said, it was proper for the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) to collaborate with civil society groups to sensitise the public to promote and protect women and girls’ rights.
He urged the government to make registration of Islamic marriage under the ordinance operational by putting in place tools such as certificates, indicating that, “In 2013, the Registrar General’s Department began a process of developing some tools to aid registration of Islamic marriage, but this process was discontinued”.
He also called on civil society organisations (CSOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to monitor the implementation of gender policies by holding the government accountable to the commitment to ensure 30 per cent women representation.
Mr Bodza, therefore, suggested that advocates should use research on customary practices carried out by universities as a basis for advocacy of abolishing the customary practices that resulted in gender-based violence, noting that contradictions between customary law and statutory law had to be resolved in order not to reinforce women’s subordinate roles in personal matters that human rights standards sought to address.
“Codification of customary laws has been proposed and has commenced under a project by GIZ but questions remained on which aspects of customary law has to be codified”, he added.
For his part, the Chief of Akyem Awisa of the Kotoko Traditional Area in the Eastern Region, Nana Senyewuo II, urged the government to disseminate more information on the gender policies and laws, particularly in rural communities, to ensure legal literacy.