Senin, 19 Desember 2011


Story: Zainabu Issah

THE importance of Millennium Development Goal 3 (MDG 3), that relates to “Promoting Gender Equality and Empower Women”, by encouraging women’s equal participation in public governance as a fundamental right, cannot be over emphasised. In the words of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, “the MDGs encapsulate the development aspirations of the world as a whole, and they are not only development objectives; they encompass universally accepted human values and rights such as freedom from hunger, the right to basic education, the right to health and a responsibility to future generations”.

In line with this global recognition, Ghana continues to address obstacles that hinder women’s access to public office through policies and in practical terms.

Admittedly, while dramatic changes and achievements have not been realised, some significant progress in women’s rights generally, has been made.

At the global level, Ghana took part in the Vienna Conference of 1993, which had the slogan “Human Rights Also Includes Women’s Rights”. Ghana is also a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979, (CEDAW).

This Convention requires signatory states to “take in all fields, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, appropriate measures, including legislation to ensure the full development and advancement of women”. Ghana has also participated in several international conferences including the famous Beijing Conference in 1995.

The 1992 Constitution of Ghana also guarantees women’s rights to promote their chances of competing with men in public office. Article 17 of the Constitution prohibits any form of discrimination on the basis of gender or sex. Article 27 (3) states that: “Women shall be granted equal rights to training and promotion without any impediments of any person’. These provisions are in line with that of CEDAW.

Article 36 (6) under the Directive Principles of State policy, also calls on the state to “afford equality of economic opportunity to all citizens and in particular, all necessary steps so as to ensure the full integration of women into the mainstream of the economic development of Ghana”. This is further reinforced by the need to “achieve reasonable regional and gender balance in recruitment and appointments to public offices”.

In spite of these, the representation of women in public offices, show a wide gender and this remains a major barrier, if not threat, to Ghana’s efforts at meeting national development goals and the MDGs.

For example, Ghanaian women were absent from the Legislative Assembly of 1957. The situation improved in 1960 when 10 women were elected by a special ballot to the National Assembly and this was done under the Representation of the People (Women Members) Act No 8 of 1960. The situation has not changed much since then and Ghana currently has only 19 female Members of Parliament (MP) out of 230-member legislature.

In support of efforts to encourage women to participate fully in decision-making so as to improve the representation of women in parliament and public offices, the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) organised the Gender Day Celebration as part of its Human Right and Integrity Week.

Speaking on the theme: “Women Representation in Politics”, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Ms Lauretta Vivian Lamptey said the Commission will continue to play its critical role as human right promoters to pursue a vigorous campaign to create awareness, raise consciousness, lobby and if need be, move mountains to secure greater gender justice for women.

She revealed that the Commission has plans to embark on a vigorous gender equality mainstreaming campaign with special emphasis on the need to get more women elected and appointed into public office.

The Rector of The Law Institute, Madam Hilary Gbedemah who spoke on the mechanisms for promoting women’s presentation in Parliament said there was the need for the demands of democracy to be balanced.

She said women’s equal participation in decision making was not only a demand for simple justice or democracy but also a necessary condition for women’s interests to be taken into account.

She explained further that without the active participation of women and the incorporation of women’s perspective at all levels of decision making; the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved.

She also called on women to bring on board alternative development paradigms such as a focus in health, child care, and water resources especially at the local governance level.

“Women’s participation can improve delivery of social services and the relationship between government and local communities,” she said.

She however called on the government to implement its policy of promoting gender equity in the country.

The Vice Chairperson of the Women’s Caucus in Parliament, Madam Gifty Ohene Konadu, who spoke on the barriers of women’s participation in Parliament, said Ghana has no laws that directly or indirectly prevent women from participating in politics but the numbers of women participating in politics continue to be low and this means that they have not been fully integrated into national development.

She added that the whole notion is that the public sector is supposed to be managed by the men and the private sector by the women. This is theory undermines institutional and political culture.

“This conception has affected Ghana and has created a diverged vision of society which then see formal politics as a domain for men and gossip politics as a female domain”, she said.

In view of this notion held by society, it is important to understand the gendered nature of societal relationships in order to appreciate the need for improved ways to enhance women’s participation in politics, Madam Konadu explained.

She however encouraged women to develop their potentials and contribute substantially to the socio-economic development of their communities.

She also said for women to make substantial contributions to national development efforts, they should have sound background and training.

Additionally, more avenues for income generating activities should be created for women to enable them be financially self-reliant.

She concluded that the development of the community was the responsibility of all ( women and men) irrespective of their political affiliations and was therefore necessary to get both sexes together to have a meaningful society that would be beneficial to all.

Madam Charity Binka from the Gender Department of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) also urged the media to do well in promoting and raising awareness of the importance of women in national development.

She also challenged the government to set up a committee to train Journalists to become gender sensitive in the reportage of gender issues.

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