The Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), the Women Manifesto Coalition (WMC) and the Domestic Violence Coalition (DVC), as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on government to develop a Comprehensive Strategic Plan on COVID-19.

They recommended that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development lead a process of combined state institutional effort on measures and modalities to engage citizens on how the pandemic is being addressed.

“The plan must provide key elements of the framework for the measures and interrelated interventions including the provision of services such as water, testing, security, and support systems for frontline health workers and identify their gender aspects.”

This was contained in a statement issued by the CSOs and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

The CSOs also called on public health and public education authorities to domesticate and adapt advisories on issues such as social distancing and self-quarantines taking into account the largely informal nature of the economy, the predominance of self-employment, communal living conditions, the use of public toilets and ablution facilities, public transportation and the nature of the markets.

They said the response to COVID-19 must be in line with human rights, even as the pandemic poses threats to all citizens.

“Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution titled, “Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms” provides rights to life, economic rights and the rights of women. In the wake of the pandemic, we must ensure that all measures guarantee and safeguard those rights,” the statement noted.

It called on government to expand access for those currently marginalised from healthcare and the most vulnerable to the virus; ensure isolation centres were clean with functional toilets and regular electricity and water supply; and ensure that measures were in compliance with policies and laws to protect vulnerable groups including older persons and Persons with Disabilities.

It would also be prudent if government ensured that COVID-19 did not lead to diversion of resources away from other areas, such as efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality or child immunization, the statement said.

As government recognises that women would constitute the majority of primary care givers for family members and in professional capacities as health- workers and social workers, the statement appealed to government to take steps to stabilise prices and counter inflation in the face of potential panic-buying; assist health and social care workers with childcare; while ensuring that both women and men receive on an equal basis, some protection from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

“We also call on government to increase the levels of public information campaigns to raise awareness of risks, how to report and what can be done to prevent Gender-Based Violence, train first responders on how to handle disclosures of Gender-based Violence linked to the pandemic and provide extra funding and other resources for shelters and other service provision,” it said.

It also urged government to ensure a meaningful participation and representation of women in all decision making processes to address the COVID-19 outbreak.



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