The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the local chapter of Transparency International, has urged women in rural communities to actively get involved in the fight against corruption.
Mr Bright Elikem Agbagba, the Volta Regional Officer of GII’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC), said corruption, the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, disadvantaged women the most and had a disproportionately negative effect on them.
He made the statement during a day’s community durbar at Larve, South Tongu District, aimed at engaging rural women to contribute to the fight against corruption.
The durbar, which drew about 100 participants from organised women groups, religious and traditional leaders and officials from key stakeholder institutions, was organised by GII with funding support from Misereor, a German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation.
The durbar held in partnership with National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) took participants through anti-corruption laws in Ghana with a focus on Whistle Blower’s Act 2006 (Act 720) and the role of the citizen in joining efforts to fight corruption, among others.
Mr Agbagba encouraged women to take advantage of the available platforms to report corruption incidents, saying National Anti-Corruption Action Plan, adopted in 2014 gave roles to everyone and that GII’s ALAC existed to make reporting such violations easier to promote good governance.
Togbe Agbekpo Asem IV, District Director of CHRAJ and Paramount Chief of Mafi Traditional Area, said Ghana had the best laws to deter corrupt practices but had over the decades not worked because the citizenry mostly affected by these practices, failed to raise their voices.
He gave instances of economic crimes, miscarriage of justice and environmental degradation considered as criminal offences under Ghana’s laws that required the involvement of citizens for punitive actions against perpetrators.
Togbe urged the women to report perpetrators of corruption-related violations to authorities, including the Ghana Police Service, Attorney General’s Department, CHRAJ, National Media Commission and chiefs, assuring of their protection as provided for in the Whistle Blowers’ Act.
Togbe Nakakpo Dugbaza VIII, Paramount Chief of Tefle Traditional Area, in a speech made on his behalf by Mr Kodzo Addy, said women represented about 52 per cent of Ghana’s population yet few of them occupied key positions or played any role in fighting corruption.
He said the days where women sat aloof and watched were long gone and that it was time for them to participate, own and take good care of the community’s (state) properties by demanding accountability from occupants of trusted positions.
“The number of women participations at all levels is on the decrease despite the fact that they make up the majority in the country. Most development projects for example water, affect you most but you’re not there to participate in decision making. You must be part from the beginning to the end. Get involved in the development of your local area,” Togbe said.
A participant, Madam Rose Atakuma, said she felt empowered knowing that she had rights and the state’s protection to fight corruption noting, she would be a good citizen to report any form of corruption to the authorities.