Clergymen from the Islamic and Christian religions have dismissed the notion that the two religions forbid females from taking up leadership positions and that those biases against women and girls were not supported by scripture.
They said women played significant roles in leadership and decision-making and if society would move forward then the woman should not be seen as a second-class citizen.
The clergymen were making a presentation on “Demystifying the misconceptions around Girls and Young Women (GYW) leadership and participation in decision making: the way forward for a better and sustainable socio-economic growth”.
This was part of the inauguration and sensitisation of Change Agents for the She Leads project in Wa, organised by the Community Aid for Rural Development (CARD-Ghana) in partnership with Plan International Ghana.
Reverend Father Barnabas Duorinaa, a Priest at the St. Andrews’ Catholic Cathedral, said the African biases against girls and young women were pushed to religion in order to establish religious backing for those biases, which were not supported by scriptures.
“God wants that at the end of the day man and woman will be equal. If our society will go forward then the woman should not be seen as a second-class citizen. Women play significant roles in leadership and decision making”, he said.
Rev. Duorinaa said women had the potential of nurturing and turning ideas into great results and must be given the opportunity to lead and participate in decision making.
Sheikh Alhaji Yussif of the Jamiat Islamiya, on his part, said Islam was not against women’s leadership and decision-making and that it was unfortunate some Islamic scholars were perpetuating those perceptions.
He observed that women could lead in any of the five daily prayers of Islam except the Jumah prayers, but that they were advised not to lead due to the movement involved in the prayers, which could distract others if a woman led it.
In a presentation on the Champions of Change approach in advocacy, Dr Elijah Yendaw, the Vice Dean, Faculty of Public Policy and Governance at the SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies, noted that biases against women were manifested at all levels of society, which had made it difficult to fight against the menace.
He said gender norms were not static, hence the need for concerted efforts to change those norms to bridge the leadership gap between men and women.
The change agents ought to establish a sense of urgency for the people to recognise the need for change and to lead that change to ensure endurance.
Madam Leenat Abdul Rahaman, the Executive Director of CARD Ghana, said the Change Agents concept was recognised internationally as a collaborative effort to achieve behavioral and social change.
“We want each and every one of us to identify ourselves as agents of change in our respective communities to enable us to derive the needed change we want in this project,” she said.
The change agents comprised community members, traditional authorities, the clergy, the Regional Youth Parliament, and representatives of government agencies in the Upper West Region.