I remember vividly how my mother had to struggle to raise funds for me to attend a Scripture Union (SU) Camp in Jasikan during the mid-90’s. Even though I was young, I appreciated her efforts and her determination to ensure that I participate in the Scripture Union Camp to build and align myself to the teachings of the Gospel.
Most Ghanaian women, irrespective of their background and educational level, ensure the safety and protection of their families.
March 8 is commemorated globally every year to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This is backed by the United Nations SDG Goal 5 which aims at, "Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls."
A woman named Clara Zetkin tabled the idea of an International Women's Day by proposing that every year in every country, there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs - and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament - greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval hence, the celebration of the International Women's Day.
It is also to raise awareness about women's equality and lobby for accelerated gender parity. The Day also focused on helping women gain full and equal participation in global development.
For us Ghanaians, the Day offers opportunity to reflect on the numerous, significant and selfless contributions our parents, wives, sisters, female colleagues at the office played in our lives and that of the country.
“The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report on Gender and Human Development maintains that women are a breed of impressively talented and remarkably intelligent people with a unique repertoire of experiences and knowledge, constituting both a source and signal of social change.”
The Ghanaian woman, since independence, has contributed immensely and significantly to the development of Ghana and beyond by making giant strides in the Agriculture, Educational, Petroleum and the Engineering sectors, just to mention a few.
Ghana has produced a host of women worth celebrating. Notable among them is Mrs Jean Adukwei-Mensah, Chairperson for the Electoral Commission, Dr. Caryn Agyeman Prempeh- a medical practitioner, founder of a nonprofit organization called, CERVIVA, focused on creating awareness and educating women on cervical cancer, Hajia Samira Bawumia- Second Lady of the Republic of Ghana and a founder and CEO of Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Projects, a non-profit organization that focuses on Health, Education, Gender Parity and Women Empowerment, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang- a politician and educationalist who served as Minister for Education in Ghana, Mrs Charlotte Osei, former Chairperson of the Electoral Commission. These accomplished women have left a mark worth remembering.
Despite the various achievements chalked by women of all backgrounds, multiple forms of violence such as domestic violence, rape, child marriage, witchcraft accusation and female genital mutilation are still being perpetrated against women, which denied them of basic human rights for survival.
Ghanaian women and girls still experience emotional, physical and sexual violence by their male counterparts. These hinder on their survival in contributing their quota to the development of Ghana.
As a fast-developing country, child marriage still remains one of our biggest challenge. Young girls are being given out in marriage, which undermines the fundamental human rights of children. This clearly violates Article 16(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.”
The 90-year-old woman Akua Denteh accused of witchcraft and lynched at Kafaba near Salaga is one of the instances that our women go through. Elderly women at her age are accused of witchcraft. These women are subjected to severe torture and inhumane treatment exposing them to health risks
Over the years, the Department of Gender and the Domestic Violence Secretariat through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and other related stakeholders have made several commitments and attempts to curb the trend of domestic violence, child marriage and other domestic related issues in Ghana.
It is our responsibilities to protect the young girl and the Ghanaian woman from constant abuse whiles urging them to attain their full potentials.
As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day which is themed: “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” the onus lies on us to support all women and girls in all sphere of life, especially our female frontline health workers putting their lives at risk to fight the Corona Virus Pandemic in Ghana.
Ghana will become a beautiful place if we all choose to protect the Ghanaian woman.
Bismark Bless Nyadzi -The writer is a staff of the Information Services Department and an Assistant Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.