The Affirmative Action Bill Coalition (AABill Coalition), Abantu for Development and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, have called on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Cabinet to submit the Affirmative Action Bill to Parliament “now”.
Mrs Sheila Minkah-Premo, the Convener, AABill Coalition, who made the call at an Intergenerational Dialogue on Affirmative Action Law, in Accra, said the outcome of the recent election showed that there were only 40 women out of 275 Members of Parliament in the Eighth Parliament, making it 14.5 per cent.
The stakeholders collectively adopted “Equal Opportunities for All, Pass Affirmative Action Bill Now” as a slogan for the advocacy.
Research in Ghana and many parts of the world, she said, showed fewer women in governance and other leadership positions, a gender related issue that must be addressed.
Affirmative Action Bill seeks to encourage efforts towards addressing socio-cultural, political, economic, and educational gender imbalances in private and public sectors in accordance with Clause 4 of Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution.
It has 36 sections on “Principles of Gender Equality and Equity”, “Gender Equality Committee”, “Affirmative Action and Gender-Equity and Equality in Governance Institutions”, “Gender Responsive Budgeting in Sectors of Government”, “Political Parties and Gender Equity and Equality”, “Gender Equity in Trade Unions”, and “Private Employment,” among others.
Mrs Grace Ampomaa Afrifa, Head of Programmes, Abantu for Development, said the lack of political will on the part of governments was what had over-prolonged the passage of the Bill.
She called for a collective collaboration from government and the public to quicken the passage of the Bill into law to promote the contribution of women in governance and national development.
Mrs Elizabeth Q. Akpalu, the Executive Director, Advocates for Gender Equality, an activist-led initiative, said women were at a low level in all sectors, and could not attain their full potential if they did not come together to discourage discrimination at the work place.
She called on young ladies to rally behind them on the advocacy to enhance their lives, adding: “Both the young and old need to support this Bill to see to it that it is passed, because if not, living conditions in Ghana will be worse without it.”
Mrs Akpalu reiterated that the hindrances to the passage of the Bill were lack of or no political will, and commitment on the part of men, as well as ignorance as a result of less knowledge and understanding of the Bill.
Another hindrance to the passage of the Bill, she said, was fragmentation among women, and advised them not to allow themselves to be divided over pertinent national bills like the Affirmative Action Bill.
“Whether in NDC or NPP, it should be a policy for all Ghanaians. We need to galvanise and get people one by one on board. Honestly, our Ghanaian men are nice superficially, but they don’t like women who are strong, forthright and know their rights, so we must initiate the fight ourselves and they will support us,” she said.
Madam Kinna Likimani, the Executive Director of AfterSchool Ghana, a nongovernmental organisation, said “Nobody should discourage women from fighting and there’s nothing like its been too long so stop pushing. We need to put aside expecting much from our leadership, especially until now and rather move for them to follow us and hurriedly pass the bill into law,” she advised.
Madam Bernice Sam, a Development Professional in Gender and Business, also condemned the manner in which women were controlled in the media, politics, and business.
She admonished the youth to leverage technology with creativity on social media to enlighten people on the relevance of the Bill.
Dr Charity Binka, the Executive Director, Women, Media and Change, recommended that strategies be developed to promote the passage of the Bill.
“We must focus attention on the Gender Ministry to move from where we want to be to where we deserve to be,” she added.