The government of Ghana has been urged to mainstream issues of gender and young people into national policies and enforce institutional laws to help end discrimination and Gender Based Violence at work places.
The Young Urban Women Movement (YUWM) which made the call noted that young women continued to experience violence, harassment, and injustice at workplaces in the informal sector and underscored the urgent need for such challenges to be addressed, to help achieve gender parity and the Sustainable Development Goals.
It, therefore, called on the government to ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention 190 (C19) and Recommendation 206 (R206) on Violence and Harassment at workplaces and enact, enforce, and monitor national laws and regulations aimed at the elimination and prevention of all forms of gender-based violence and harassment.
Ms Patience Abagna, the Public Relations Officer of the Upper East Regional chapter of the YUWM expressed these concerns through the media at Bolgatanga as part of activities marking this year’s International Women’s Day.
The YUWM is group of young women numbering over 1500, drawn from the Upper East Region and are under the sponsorship of the Hewlett Foundation in partnership with ActionAid Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisations with the focus to advocate the promotion of human rights and women empowerment that cut across unpaid care work, economic security, and bodily integrity of women.
Ms Abagna explained that about 77 per cent of young people in Ghana were employed in the informal sector and many of them continued to suffer various degrees of unjust treatment, domestic and workplaces abuses, work loses and burden of unpaid care work, among others.
She said the phenomenon which had lingered on for decades continued to retard the development of women, young people, and persons with disability, deepening the gender gap and poverty cycle among vulnerable.
“Women are segregated and over-represented in low paid, insecure jobs with little or no access to social protection and rights at work, whether in the formal or informal economy.
“Women workers can be subjected to forced pregnancy tests, forced abortions, and even blackmailing as a condition to securing or retaining their jobs. These are clear violations of women’s labour and sexual and reproductive rights, yet they happen without redress and remedy because their jobs are often outside the purview of national labour laws,” she lamented.
Ms Abagna noted that apart from ratifying the C190 and R206, the government and other stakeholders needed to enact and enforce regulations that ensure universal access to gender responsive, appropriate, confidential, and transparent system that promotes justice for victims of gender-based violence and harassment.
“She called on traditional and religious leaders to collaborate with organisations such as ActionAid and Young Urban Women’s Movement to end GBV and urged Women rights advocates and social justice organisations to proactively engage the media by influencing and directing media content, including TV and radio advertisements, to promote the gender agenda.
“They should use the media to change attitudes towards GBV by mainstreaming gender issues in public discourses and projecting the story of the empowered woman in media spaces,” she added.
The celebration was characterised by a route march on the principal streets of Bolgatanga holding placards with the inscription, “stop harassing women and girls,” “some gender norms are not favourable to women, let us change them,” “involve women in leadership and decision making” among others.