Some leading gender focused Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have engaged stakeholders in Northern Ghana to court their support and seek inputs as part of intensified advocacy for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into law.
The CSOs do not only want the Bill to be passed into law without further delays but that the bill was well crafted and coordinated to significantly address challenges facing the progress of women and girls to bridge the gender gap, inequality and inequity and biases against women and increase women participation in policy decision making spheres.
The consultative forum was organised by the Widows and Orphans Movement (WOM), Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), Women in Development and Affirmative Action Coalition with support from Plan International and Global Affairs Canada.
The forum sought among other things to share the proposed provisions in the Bill with stakeholders to seek their support, identify the gaps in the Bill and make recommendations into the Bill in order for it to address the various challenges facing women and the marginalised.
Hajia Lamnatu Adam, Focal Person for the Affirmative Action Coalition, said more than half of Ghana’s population were women who had the potentials to contribute significantly to the socioeconomic development of the nation, however, they continued to face widening gender inequality in various sectors, including education, politics and socioeconomic spheres.
“If you look at our Parliament today, we have women representation of about 14.5 percent, that is out of the 275 parliamentarians, women are only 40 and when you come to the local level, the story is so sad,” she said.
Hajia Lamnatu, who is also the Executive Director of Songataba, a women empowerment organisation, indicated that apart from being a Constitutional demand, the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill would help enhance women’s rights and increase women’s participation in governance.
“As a country, we have also signed onto some international treaties and declarations that we think is binding, and the Sustainable Development Goals especially goal five talks about achieving gender parity by 2030, so we think it is justifiable enough for the Bill to be passed,” she added.
Ms Fati Abigail Abdulai, the Executive Director of WOM, noted that the passage of the Bill was long overdue after 12 years and there was the need for all stakeholders to intensify advocacy to compel Parliament to expedite actions on the passage of the Bill.
“Some African countries such as Rwanda, Sierra Leone and South Africa have affirmative action law and they are having increasing economic growth, so in Ghana if we want to address the current economic crisis, this is the time to pass the Affirmative Action Bill,” she added.
Ms Mercy Dakogri, Programmes Coordinator, Community Development Alliance Ghana, called for intensified advocacy to ensure people had more information on the Bill.
She advised that the Bill should address inequalities in employment and earnings between men and women in the private sector.
Mr Maxwell Banu, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, TEERE, noted that women provided home-based solutions to the challenges facing the country and called for expedited action for the Bill to be passed.
The Affirmative Action Bill is seeking among other things to increase women participation in decision making positions by proposing at least 40 percent of public offices to be reserved for women.
The Bill, which is currently before the Parliamentary Select Committee, had been in Parliament for about three times since 2011, and seeks to remove discrimination and improve rights of marginalised groups who have been historically disadvantaged.