Discussion Women
Discussion Women

Panellists at a discussion in Accra, have called for maximum national support to address issues pertaining to the rights of marginalised groups, through adequate funding and implementation of legal frameworks to enhance their status.

The panellists; made up of Ms Rita Kusi Kyeremaa, the Executive Director of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, Ms Cynthia Nimo-Ampredu, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Advocacy Centre, and Dr Caroline Amissah, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Mental Health Authority (MHA), called for intensified advocacy on gender equality and national inclusion of marginalised groups.

They were contributing to discussions in an event hosted by the United States Embassy in Ghana on Thursday, on “Women Empowering Marginalised Communities,” looking at the barriers, benefits and the breakthroughs.

The event, which narrowed on the hashtag “#BalanceforBetter”, was in honour of the Women’s History Month observed in March each year to celebrate the vision, leadership, and courage of women all over the world.

Participants included; members from Civil Society Organisations, the Police, media and other Public Service Officials.

Mr Christopher J. Lamora, the Chargé d’Affaires of the U. S Embassy Accra, Ghana, said the fact that women made up about 50 per cent of the global population could not be overlooked, and there was the need to intensify advocacy for their inclusion in dialogues on key issues such as education, economics, policy and health.

The Women’s History Month, he explained, highlighted on accomplished women who worked to advance the human rights of society’s more marginalised members and fight discrimination.

He thanked the panellists for accepting to share their knowledge and experiences with the participants and said advocacy on gender equality should not end after March, but should be a continuous process.

Ms Kyeremaa during the discussions said although her outfit had over the years worked to achieve some level of equality and respect for the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), stigmatisation and barriers such as access to quality education, health, and economic empowerment still remained a great challenge.

She said PWDs still faced challenges with access to jobs, and funding opportunities a for entrepreneurial projects, and were excluded in the political discourse, and insisted that ensuring the holistic empowerment, all marginalised groups were key in contributing to national development.

Ms Nimo-Ampredu who is also a Lawyer by profession explained how the Human Rights Advocacy Centre had supported marginalised persons including; women and children with free legal services, and also worked to address various human rights issues involving key population such as the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT), Commercial Sex Workers and persons with mental health disorders.

She said the country had also made great progress by maintaining the tolerance levels of the public as previously sensitive issues such as LGBT could not be openly discussed, and that her outfit in collaboration with the Gender Ministry and other partner had organised training programmes for the security services on handling issues involving PWD and marginalised groups, and also conducted research and intensified advocacy for support in addressing their needs.

Dr Amissah said the abysmal financial allocation by the government to the MHA had prevented the Authority from fully carrying out its mandate, and reaching out to those who needed their services across the country.

She said a Rapid Assessment conducted in 2016 showed that 16,000 Ghanaians with mental health challenges were living on the streets, yet the Psychiatric hospitals were already choked with patients, with no funding support for expansion.

The Authority itself, she said was still housed in a rented premises paid for by the DFID infrastructure with the rent to expire in September 2019.

On affordability and access to counselling services, Dr Amissah said they were major impediments, while the negative perceptions about, and stigmatisation of persons with mental health challenges continued to derail the gains.

She appealed to communities to help to address the mental health threat of the population by encouraging families to support especially women with post-partum depression, and people with stress, alcoholism and drug-related problems.

She said the Authority would be piloting an Employee Assistance Programme supported by the Ghana Revenue Authority and the DFID, and was expected to be implemented later by all institutions to address the counselling needs of their staff.

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