International Women's Day
International Women's Day

Since the second half of the 1970s, I have noticed with keen interest the enthusiasm expressed by several stakeholders to champion the interest of women particularly in ensuring the actualization of gender equality. However, we still continue to live in a society that is predominantly male in almost all political, economic and social sectors.

International Women's Day
International Women’s Day
Aside these, we also continue to live in a society that attributes the attainment of a woman’s success to her ability to satisfy requested sexual satisfaction from any source especially those in higher authorities. In Ghana particularly, it is said in the Twi language that ” fa wo tuu b3gi golf”.What is sad about such comments is the fact that people in the helm of affairs directly and indirectly consent to such comments and acts.

It is but with a mixed feeling that I celebrate International Women’s Day, IWD for short. I feel happy that yet again recognition is given to women for their efforts and contributions to their communities and the world at large whilst on the other hand I feel saddened for the hypocritical nature of its celebration. Majority of us rarely do celebrate or compliment women in our everyday lives; it happens like my birthday which takes place in a long awaited month, December..lol

We understand that culture belongs to the whole society but it is women who are predominately expected to live according to the standards or rules set as compared to the male counterparts. Today, we continue to record high cases of discrimination against women and girls; high incidents of harmful practices such as domestic servitude, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and an over whelming number of child marriages. It is reported by the Ghana Statistical Service that over 38.7% of women married between the ages of 15-49 have experienced physical, psychological, emotional and sexual violations by a partner or husband at some point in the life. We also keep recording by United Nations report over 200 million women and girls in about 30 countries have undergone Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) or cutting. Women’s role in agriculture devalued and or with limited access or no access at all to variable lands as well as having ownership.

In this 21st century, we still have more women whose labor are also unrecognized and devalued. We are still faced with a gender wage gap which will take 70 more years to close,i.e 2086.

Notwithstanding these challenges which somewhat look far in attaining, we are now more than ever ready to take our deserving share of the national cake. Some areas have seen significant improvement in the role played or positions held by women and for that, we recommend such women who create avenues to promote the course of women empowerment whiles attaining their own goals.

But this is not enough as we continue to also face some insignificant changes in other areas hence the need for women to “Arise for change for the time is now”.I believe there is no appropriate time to demand for our rights than now. Thus, my affirmative support for this year’s theme “Be bold for change”. But permit me to qualify it more precisely , “Be bold for a positive change”. This is a tool which in itself serves as a motivator to all and sundry in order to continue to improve human life as our predecessors have always sought to do.
As an American Suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt puts it “few people live to see the actual and final realization of hopes to which they have devoted their lives”. That privilege is ours.

In my view, I believe women have therefore been called to be bold to take proactive and calculated radical steps to ensure that every woman counts for development. We continue to appreciate the effects of conferences and seminars over the years but its time we put more of these words in action with much emphasis on the government. Under the auspices of Women in Law and Development in Africa(WiLDAF)-Ghana, I effectively collated signatures towards ensuring that the Affirmative Action Bill will be passed in 2014. Unfortunately, the Bill has gathered dust in Parliament for 8years which leaves me wondering if the issues confronting the marginalized which is dominated by women and children are not of critical concern to government!

Notwithstanding these, I believe in the power of women. When we put our collective efforts to work, we make the seemingly impossible possible – finding redress to the many challenges facing women especially those in rurual areas, finding no problem when people call themselves feminist, not finding measuring success in relation to marriage and sexual satisfaction etcetera.

We must demand for following;

– The passing of the Affirmative Action Bill ‘Now’

– An end to all forms of discrimination against women and girls anywhere and everywhere.

– The institutionalization of social protective policies which when bridged are punishable by law to end child marriage and FGM.

– The passing of the land use and spatial planning bill which is before parliament.

– Availability and accessibility of financial services,properties etc

– And demand with that equal pay in all areas that women work.

In conclusion, it is important that women support each other and be bold enough to that praticable measures to see the change they deserve particularly in political spaces. We also need a change in society’s behavior towards empowering women for indeed “if we want to see real development, our best investment is in women”-Desmond Tutu.

Happy International Women’s Day..Be Bold for Change

Authored by Eva Abugabe
A Gender,Human Rights Activist and Advocate
[email protected] /0209339719

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