ABANTU/AWDF LAUNCHES PROJECT TO STRENGTHEN ADVOCACY FOR PASSAGE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION LAW

Professor Takyiwa Manuh, Professor Emeritus, University of Ghana, has bemoaned the lack of progress in achieving the objectives set out in the Women’s Manifesto for Ghana.

 

The Women's Manifesto for Ghana, launched on September 2, 2004, is a document that gives different groups of women the chance to advocate and lobby from government and its agencies the stated demands for equal allocation and distribution of resources and create new situations to meet the challenges and threats towards gender parity.

 

Prof. Manuh, who was delivering the key note address in Accra, on Wednesday, September 26, 2018, at the launch of a Project to strengthen advocacy for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into Law, reminded the nation that the Manifesto had demanded equal female participation in the government of Ghana; that Ghana’s Legislature become 30% female by 2008 and 50% female by 2012; and also stipulated equal female participation in leadership of political parties.

 

However, she said, in 2018, women’s representation in Parliament stood at 12.7 percent. She noted that the expression, Affirmative Action, which aimed to give legal backing to promote inclusion and gender equality in Ghana, appeared eight times in the Women’s Manifesto.

 

Prof. Manuh said Article 17 (4) of the 1992 Republican Constitution of Ghana justified Affirmative Action as a tool for addressing imbalances in the Ghanaian society. She cited Liberia, Senegal, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya as African countries which had used Affirmative Action to enhance progression in women’s participation, with a corresponding positive impact in national development.

 

Prof. Manuh commended ABANTU for Development for the initiative and for their untiring efforts in the fight for gender parity, notwithstanding the challenges.

 

In a statement, Dr Comfort Asare, Director, Department of Gender, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), disclosed that MoGCSP had developed a Communication and Advocacy Plan for the sensitisation and advocacy of the Affirmative Action Bill.

 

Dr Asare acknowledged the significant role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the implementation of the Communication and Advocacy Plan. She noted that Gender inequality was not a women’s issue, but a human rights issue, the resolution of which would accrue social, political and economic benefits to both women and men.

 

She said although Ghana had made progress in many areas of national development, especially in education, health and economics, the gap between men and women was still wide.

 

The importance of the support base of CSOs, Sector Ministries and Development Partners, she said, could, therefore, not be overemphasized in efforts at bridging the gender inequality gap and achieving the target of a “critical minority” of, at least, a 30% participation and representation of women in positions of power and decision-making at all levels.

 

She said MoGCSP was, therefore, motivated by the initiative by ABANTU for Development to complement efforts for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into law.

 

The AAB is designed to help eliminate gender inequalities, based on the principle that each citizen shares an equal right to self-development and that both women and men with equal abilities should have equal opportunities.

 

Welcoming participants to the launch, Ms Hamida Harrison, Programmes Officer, ABANTU for Development— a gender and policy advocacy Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)— recalled the Affirmative Action Act of June 1960 which allowed 10 women to represent the ten regions of Ghana, unopposed, in the then Parliament of Ghana.

 

Ms Harrison explained that the Affirmative Action Act of 1960 acceded to the fact that women’s political participation was a critical component of democratic dialogue and social cohesion. She noted that Ghana had also signed on to global declarations and protocols that demanded increased women’s participation and representation in public life.

 

Through these instruments, she said, Ghana had been mandated to institute specific measures such as affirmative action mechanisms to address the problem of exclusion of the marginalised, especially women.

 

Ms Harrison noted that in Ghana’s Parliament, women’s representation stood at 12.7 percent, falling short of the United Nations recommended threshold of 30 percent. She said inclusive political participation was an approach that had become central to development initiatives and were at the heart of global frameworks for development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

She noted that in recent historical development, Ghana had made attempts, starting with the Affirmative Action Policy Guidelines, to promulgate an Affirmative Action law without concrete results.

 

Currently, Ms Harrison said, Ghana had drafted an Affirmative Action Bill as demanded by Article 4 and 7 of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which Ghana ratified in 1986.

 

She expressed regret and disappointment that progress towards the passage of the Bill into law had been extremely slow. She said there was, therefore, the urgent need to up-scale advocacy and implement effective strategies to secure the passage of the Bill into Law, hence the Project dubbed: Strengthening Advocacy for the Passage of an Affirmative Action Law in Ghana, being implemented by ABANTU for Development, with funding from the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF).

 

Ms Kina Likimani, a Gender Activist and Chairperson for the occasion, commended ABANTU for the renewed effort and expressed support for the project, adding that the fight for gender parity was a fight the women’s movement was equipped to fight.

 

Present at the launch were representatives from the Women’s Manifesto Coalition (WMC), Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) and Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF Ghana).

 

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney, Esq.)

Created: 28 September 2018
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