Selasa, 10 Juli 2012



ACCORDING to information accessed online, women and children account for almost 80 per cent of the casualties of conflict and war. They also account for 80 per cent of the 40 million refugees in world. During war situations, women and children suffer sexual abuse and their bodies are considered as commodities that can be traded with.

The impact of war on children is also profound. In the last decade, two million children in the world have been killed in wars and conflicts, 4.5 million children have been disabled and 12 million have been left homeless.

Today there are more than 300,000 child soldiers, including many girls who are forced to 'service' the troops.

It is with this background that the Ark Foundation Ghana, an advocacy based women’s rights organisation, on Saturday,organised a Polar Ball to create an environment for politicians, representatives from key institutions as well as other eminent persons in the society to meet in a relaxed atmosphere to share and commit themselves to peace.

The ball was also aimed at promoting peaceful ideals, tolerance and respect for divergent opinions and highlight the need to place the country’s peace agenda, over the interest of any political party.

The event forms part of activities being executed by the Ark foundation, under an 11-month project dubbed: “The nuisance Project: Young Women Speak Peace to Power,” as a way of contributing towards ensuring that Ghanaians commit themselves to peace during and after the upcoming elections.

The project, being funded by STAR-Ghana is expected to provide a platform for 30 young women to employ advocacy to increase accountability and responsiveness of key stakeholders for maintaining peace before, during and after the elections.

Delivering a peace message, the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) National Women’s Organiser, Miss Otiko Afisa Gyaba, urged all political parties to put the country first in their campaign messages.

She said, it was not encouraging when politicians talk about peace but yet insult each other. She added that it would be perfect for politicians to practice what they say on their campaign platforms.

“Let us do what we say so that we can tell our story to the next generation about the importance of upholding peace and good conduct,” she said.

Miss Gyaba, however, said the NPP was committed to maintaining peace and called on Ghanaians to express their thoughts in a peaceful manner - through the ballot box.

She lauded the effort of the Ark foundation to ensure and promote peace and bring together all the political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs) to discuss and talk peace.

The Convention People’s Party’s (CPP) First Vice Chairperson, Mrs Susan Adu Amankwa, in her remarks, said peace was not the absence of war but also the state of the mind.

She explained that if the mind and body was at peace, the environment would also be at peace. She added that peace was both a gift and a task that should be worked out.

She gave the assurance that the CPP would do all in its power to ensure that peace prevailed during and after the December elections.

Mrs Amankwa also tasked all political parties to include the message of peace on their campaign platforms.
Speaking on behalf of civil society organisations (CSO’s), the Deputy Director of Women Law and Development, Africa, (WiLDAF), Mrs  Bernice Sam, was optimistic that the elections would be peaceful.

The Deputy National Youth Organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Ms Barbara Asamoah, said the prime objective of the NDC was to maintain peace in the country. She stressed that “Not only does the NDC preach peace, we also support all efforts to create awareness to ensure peace.”

She said the NDC has also advised its members not to engage in any act that would undermine the peace currently being enjoyed in the country.

Ms Asamoah said it was the expectation of the NDC that all other benevolent groups would emulate the effort of the NDC for a better Ghana.

Adding his voice, the Member of Parliament for Adenta, Mr David Ampofo, called on political parties to work hard to ensure peace in the country.

Delivering the keynote address, the Executive Director of Women Peace and Security Network (WPSN),Ms Leymah Roberta Gbowee, said there was no politician nor political ideology that was worth fighting for during elections or campaigns.

She said during elections, there is a pretentious importance placed on the minority groups thus women and children calling it “women and youth wing.”

Also, huge promises are made to women and children for a better representation in government and a better future but all are often lost after the elections.

With the exception of Rwanda that has 48.75 per cent representation on women in parliament, no country has achieved 50 per cent representation of women in parliament, and indicated that additionally, violence during and after elections had been deeply entrenched within the African continent which needs to be reversed.

Ms Gbowee, who is also the 2011 Noble Peace Price winner, called for tolerance and urged Ghanaians not to use emotions but common sense during the electioneering campaign.

Presenting the peace message on behalf of Young Women for Peace, Ms Affi Agbenyo, called on all political parties to redesign their attitudes for a violence-free election.

She said there was the need for politicians to approach each other with political tolerance and also urged the Electoral Commission (EC) to conduct the upcoming elections in a free and fair manner.

The evening was climaxed with a citation presented to Ms Gbowee for her tireless effort in promoting peace in and across Africa and an African poetry recital form Chief Moomen, a student of the University of Ghana.

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