Mrs.Hamida Harrison Convener, Women’s Manifesto Coalition the media in Accra.

Ghana as a country has been exploring measures to increase women’s participation in governance over the years.

This is in recognition of the fact that women’s contribution to labour, productivity and family sustenance cannot be overemphasized, and these justify women’s participation in the country’s political process.

Despite gender equality being enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and Ghana signing up to several international instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women (AU Optional Protocol on Women), the number of women participating in local, district and national governance and decision-making structures is very low.

It is in this regard, ABANTU for Development has been working assiduously to ensure the passage of Affirmative Action Bill into law to increase the participation of women in decision making.

Mrs.Hamida Harrison Convener, Women’s Manifesto Coalition, made this known during ABANTU for Development media engagement in Accra, under theme: “Strengthening Advocacy for The Passage of an Affirmative Action Law in Ghana.”

According to her, the Affirmative Action Bill, which has suffered a number of setbacks for about 10 years now, was supposed to increase the participation of women in decision making and also provide 40 per cent representation and participation of women in governance, public positions of power and decision making.

This she said, women in the country had waited with anticipation for the fulfilment of promises of the 30 to 40 per cent women representation in politics made in political party’s manifestos but, nothing had been done about that.

Stressing that, if 30% is been given to women in the country to serve in other public and private institutions then there is a great way to improve the development of country.

In in accepting the Beijing platform for Action, Ghana has been mandated: “to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country”.

Hamida Harrison explained: “The Beijing Platform calls on states to implement initiatives that will result in a minimum threshold of 30% women representation in all decision making positions.

In ratifying CEDAW, thirty three years ago in 1986, Ghana has agreed to adopt temporary special measures affirmative action aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women,”.

However, she decried over the failure to meet the UN-recommended threshold of 30 percent women’s representation affirmative action in the District Assemblies, 68 years after the affirmative action measure of the 1960s.

According to her, historical and cultural factors have reduced women’s role in public life to minimum.

Citing the following factors impeding the progress of women: poverty, public perceptions and attitudes, low identification with prevailing practice of political powers structures and restrictive electoral processes.

This she said, there is need for the media to educate the masses to understand any policy decisions especially issues on gender equality and equity within governance.

Since such decisions have profound consequences for their lives and the future generations. Since media’s role has been identified as critical in social improvement.

However, the gender activist urged the government to show commitment to issues of gender equality and social inclusion, adding that the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into law required urgent attention.

According to Madam Grace Afrifa, Head of Programmes at ABANTU the media’s role has been identified as critical in social improvement.

It is in regard, we are launching a two-year project to actively engage the media in pushing advocacy on the Affirmative Action Bill secure a legal mechanism for the best gender equality outcomes for all citizens in public. “So today, the overall gal of the media engagement is to:

• To actively engage with the Media to learn about the status of Affirmative Action Bill
• To equip Media with the requisite knowledge of why Ghana needs an Affirmative action Law.

To enhance relationship between Media and ABANTU for better collaboration in advancing voice and advocacy for the passage Bill into Law,” she explained.

Since the demise of the Representative of the Peoples Act of the 1959, which eventually paved the way for ten women to be elected to the National Assembly (Parliament) in 1960, attempts have been since 1998 to promulgate an Affirmative Action Law but without concrete results.Ghana currently has completed a Draft Bill that is waiting submission to Parliament.

Source: Isaac Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/newsghana.com.gh

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