The Ghana Chapter of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) was launched on Wednesday to drive women’s leadership in all spheres of society to propel the nation’s inclusive and sustainable development in peace and security.
Hajia Lariba Zuweira Abudu, the Minister Designate of Gender, Children and Social Protection, launched the Network in Accra on the theme: “Achieving Gender Equality and Inclusion for the Africa We Want”, making Ghana the 31st country to join the continental movement.
The network, open to women from all sectors of society, aims to achieve its goals by executing action plans and strategies in six key areas namely: Political Participation; Peace and Security; Financial Inclusion; Young Women’s Leadership; Empowering Rural Women and Social Mobilisation.
These are grounded in the objectives of Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 on the empowerment of women and girls to fully participate in the advancement of society.
Dr Charity Binka, the Chairperson, Interim Steering Committee, AWLN Ghana Chapter, said when women thrived, the entire society and succeeding generations benefitted from it.
“Women need to sit at the table of decision making and if this is not possible, we need to create our own table. The time has come for women in Ghana to be seen and heard at all levels,” she said.
AWLN Ghana would, therefore, mobilise Ghanaian leaders and women to play significant roles in the transformation of Ghana, and Africa as a whole.
It would also influence dialogue and thought-leadership on issues affecting women across Ghana and the continent.
It would also support Ghanaian women political leaders and leadership at the national and local levels to enable women to pursue their leadership goals.
There would be capacity building programmes for women candidates for electoral position, while a strategy would be developed to address social challenges that inhibit their progress.
Hajia Lariba, for her part, noted that women were lagging behind in the participation of peace and security, economic and political governance.
The Ministry was, therefore, ready to fully embrace and support AWLN to achieve its objectives, she said.
Hajia Lariba lauded the Network for prioritising economic inclusion among its pillars, saying economic empowerment was key to achieving gender equality and propelling national growth.
The Minister-designate entreated the Network to engage in inter-sectorial and intergenerational dialogues, which positioned civil society organisations as important stakeholders to unearth discriminations against women and girls for the promotion of gender inclusion and equality.
To bridge the decision-making gap in Ghana’s governance processes, Hajia Lariba encouraged more women to venture into politics at the district, regional and national levels.
She appealed to queen mothers and female chiefs to support women interested in politics and local government in their localities to win and thereafter to ensure their success.
Mr Charles Abani, the UN Resident Coordinator, said promoting women’s participation in decision making processes and leadership positions was a priority of the UN as reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It was also important to promote the participation of women in peace protection and humanitarian processes to ensure a safer world.
“During peace keeping time, women contribute to building the foundation but bear the hardest consequences of conflicts. Women need to be highly recognised for their roles in conflict management and national development,” he added.
Mr Abani expressed concern about the low representation of women in Parliament and at the district level assemblies, saying, unfortunately, the 2021 Board Index Report also indicated that women were less represented on the Boards of the Ghana Stock Exchange.
Ms Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, said climate change had undermined and internally displaced women and girls together with other minority groups.
It had also exposed them to sexual and gender-based violence among other inhuman treatments, she said.
She admonished the Network to ensure that discriminatory actions and policies against women regarding leadership at the grassroot levels and political positions were eliminated.
“The next electoral cycle in Ghana offers opportunity for the Network to promote equal opportunities for men and women to exercise their franchise and contest national and regional positions,” she added.
Madam Hannah Tetteh, UN under Secretary-General and Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, in a virtual solidarity message, encouraged the AWLN to groom young women to play key roles in addressing the issues and preparing them to lead.
There were solidarity messages that invariably extolled the resilience and resourcefulness of women and how their marginalisation had impeded the holistic development of nations from members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the President of Ghana, among others.
They include the German Ambassador, Daniel Krull, Kathleen Flynn-Dapaah, Counsellor- Director, Head of Cooperation, Canadian High Commission, Ambassador Hannah Nyarko, Coordinating Director, Political and Economic, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Angela Asante-Essah, Gender Advisor to the President and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.
The impressive ceremony was attended by women in leadership and youth groups from the private and business sector, civil society organisations and women-led networks, the entertainment industry, traditional leaders, media and legal fields, among others.