General News of Tuesday, 18 June 2019
Gender advocate and Executive Director of Gender Planning Consults, Joana Opare has lashed out at government for its casual attitude towards passing the Affirmative Action Bill which has been pending Parliamentary attention for over a decade.
The Affirmative Action Bill which was legislated in the mid-60s when passed will seek to promote the participation of women in public discourses.
Mrs. Opare who was addressing participants of an engagement with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection Tuesday, June 18, 2019, emphasized the need for advocates to move past conveying messages to an implementation stage.
She said, “…it’s time for us to be serious…and if the women are there to decide with the men, then we can move and have sustainable development in Ghana. And let’s stop toying with it, the Ministry is leading the process, please stop sleeping; wake up.”
In her submission, she added that the Affirmative Action Bill will not only be about women but for all citizens who are living under socio-economic and political marginalization.
Mrs. Opare also expressed her utter disappointment at the Gender Minister and her deputy for failing to show up for the program. In her view, the process leading to the passage of the law will be stalled without the appropriate representation of relevant leaders.
“It’s time for advocacy, so we will not be like Ostriches, we’re going to say it as it is. So please when you (Minister’s delegation) go, tell them that we’re disappointed that they’re not here. I was expecting to see our leaders here, that is my first disappointment.”
More gender-sensitive men needed
On her part, the acting CPP Chairperson, Hajia Hamdatu Ibrahim said the buildup to the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill needs more men who are gender sensitive in Parliament to support.
“I think the agenda should be such that, we get more men who are gender-sensitive like the men in this room, but they don’t make the laws. How can we get more male members of parliament to buy into this idea because I think it is a shame that the torch-bearers that is Ghana, we’re still marking time. We have to be serious and be up and doing. Our people should be serious and know that the gender agenda is not only about women but men inclusive.” She said.
Even though there was a representation on behalf of the Gender Ministry, Hajia Hamdatu Ibrahim took her turn to dash at the Gender Minister for failing to show up or field a high-powered delegation for the programme.
The group, as part of the buildup process to ensure that the bill has enough attention for its passage, has initiated a social media hashtag to galvanize the support of the youth in pushing the agenda of passing the Affirmative Action Bill.
The engagement with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection Tuesday was under the theme; “Strengthening advocacy for the passage of an affirmative action law in Ghana”.
Affirmative Action Bill
The Affirmative Action Bill has suffered a number of setbacks for about 10 years now. The bill was supposed to increase the participation of women in decision making.
It provides for a 40 percent representation and participation of women in governance, public positions of power and decision making.
The bill also proposes that anyone who insults a woman just because she is vying for public office should be liable for prosecution.
For instance, Clause 38 of the draft bill says that: “A person who victimises, obstructs or exerts undue influence and submits a female politician to verbal attack, among others, commits an offense.”
A promise made by a former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), Nana Oye Lithur, to ensure that the bill was passed by the end of 2016 was not fulfilled.
In November 2017, the then sector minister, Mrs. Otiko Afisa Djaba, also launched a campaign dubbed: ‘HeforShe’, an initiative that sought to push for Parliament to pass the bill.
Following the delays in passing the bill, many gender activists have been critical of the government for dragging its feet in the passage of the bill into law.
In May 2018, the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to ensure that the Affirmative Action Bill was passed into law before the 2019 State of the Nation address, but that did not happen.