The STAR-Ghana Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) on Friday, organised a national dialogue on the status of the Ghanaian woman, to commemorate the 2019 International Women’s Day (IWD).
The programme on the theme: “Balance for Better; Examining Progress and Prospects for Gender Equality in Ghana,” brought together stakeholders including the academia, policy makers, Civil Society Organisations, media, and women groups, to assess the progress of women over the past year, from the grass roots to the national level for policy action.
Professor Agnes Apusigah, the Chairperson for the Gender Equality and Social Protection Committee, and Member of the STAR-Ghana Governing Council, in an address, said the national dialogue was preceded by zonal discussions that generated broader consultations with women as inputs.
Dr Afisah Zakariah, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, admitted that generally, there had been significant improvements in the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment to bridge the gap that had existed over the years.
However, women were still under-represented in key areas including leadership and decision-making positions, as well as in the use of technology.
She said the rationale behind the institution of the IWD by the United Nations to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women, past, present and future was laudable.
The occasion, she said further recognised their achievements, drew global attention to their plights, and pressed on governments and various women’s groups to declare their commitments and efforts to address challenges such as violence against women and girls, fistula, female genital mutilation, harmful widowhood rites that retarded women’s progress.
Dr Zakariah said the global theme chosen by the UN “Think, build smart, and innovate for Change,” would target industry leaders, game-changing star-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists, and women innovators to examine the ways in which innovation could remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality.
This, she said, would encourage investment in gender responsive social systems, and build services and infrastructure that met the needs of women and girls.
She indicated that technology and innovation provided unprecedented opportunities, yet, trends indicated a global growing gender digital divide.
She said to address the challenges, the Ministry was pushing strongly for the passage of an Affirmative Action Law to address and identify the gender imbalances that especially inhibited women inclusion in many decision-making positions, to reduce inequalities in the society.
Professor. Akua Kuenyehia, a Ghanaian Lawyer and a former Judge of the International Criminal Court, also admitted that although the journey on women empowerment and gender equality had not been smooth, three key areas made up of governance and politics; economic empowerment and education, and the health of woman to be strengthened to ensure their liberation.
She said innovation, science and technology was an important aspect that women in Ghana should uphold, urging them to take the opportunity to embrace and learn Information Communication and Technology as the world was advancing.
“It is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of such innovation to shape their future”.
She called on all women’s groups to join forces to push for the passage of the Affirmative Action Law, so that challenges such as the land tenure systems, which favoured men, would be reviewed to offer agricultural lands to women.