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Implement social interventions that benefit both sexes —UN Systems

BY: Daily Graphic
Ms Sylvia Lopez-Ekra
Ms Sylvia Lopez-Ekra

The United Nations in Ghana has called on the government to implement social interventions that work both for the good of women and men.

It has also called for the encouragement of innovations and investments in technology to expand the access to opportunities and skills for women and men, facilitate the transition from education to employment and close the gender gap.

According to the acting UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, “innovation can help us address some of the barriers that women and girls face in accessing public services and opportunities”.

She stated that “we should make it central to our efforts to promote women’s empowerment and in doing so we need to make sure that women and girls are not only just consumers of innovation but that they are given the space to be innovators themselves”.

In a press release issued to mark this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD), she said the countless number of life-changing inventions created by women throughout history proved that they were capable to do so “when society does not get in their way.”

Innovations

During this years IWD, the world is focusing on innovative ways in which gender equality and the empowerment of women could be propelled on the theme: “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”.

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According to the UN systems in Ghana, despite notable progress over the years, discriminatory social norms on gender continue to impact negatively on the lives of both women and men in the country.

“Women’s education and economic empowerment are too often compromised by lack of adequate and sustained opportunities, support, and investments”, it said.

Although women constitute 70 per cent of the informal sector workforce, the UN systems say many are low income earners with limited social security protection, whereas child marriage and teenage pregnancy continue to remain a critical barrier to girls’ continued education, skills development and full transition into employment.

Care work

According to the release, data showed that women and girls spent significant time in care provision for children and the elderly and performance of chores such as cooking, cleaning or fetching water and firewood for the household.

However, it said shared responsibility could significantly lessen the burden and allow a fuller engagement in the community and public life and improve access to education and economic empowerment opportunities.

It said achieving a gender-equal world required social innovations that worked for both women and men and left no one behind, that is from urban planning that focused on community safety to e-learning platforms that took classrooms to women and girls, affordable and quality childcare centres and technology shaped by women, emphasising that innovation could take the race for gender equality to its finishing line by 2030.

HFFG

In a related development, the Hope For Future Generations (HFFG), an organisation working for equal opportunities for women and girls, has called on the government to help remove all barriers that deny women income security, decent work and economic autonomy, as well as the opportunity to lead, participate in and benefit equally from governance systems.

It said even though significant gains had been made globally, gender inequality continued to hold women and girls back and deprived them of basic rights and opportunities professionally.

Quoting the UN Women, it said globally women earned 23 per cent less than men for work of equal value, saying as a result of this inequality, there was a lifetime of income inequality between men and women, and more women were retiring into poverty, thereby defeating the global target of ending poverty in all its forms everywhere.

The HFFG, which is also the lead Convener for the CSOs Platform on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) five in the country, said it strongly believed that women’s economic empowerment was essential to the realisation of women’s rights and to achieving global gender equality.

It said women could realise their human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to decent work, economic security and freedom from violence and discrimination, regardless of who they were and what they did.

“Realising women’s economic empowerment requires transformative change so that prosperity is equitably shared and no one is left behind.

The International community has made this commitment in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, the release added.

Representation

It added that the time had come for the Ghanaian woman to be well represented in political and economic decision-making processes and called for the quick passage of the Affirmative Action Bill which would among other things escalate the participation of women in key executive roles, saying it would also help bridge the professional segregation and gender wage gaps that existed.

The HFFG also called for attention to be paid to women with disabilities who were not only part of the world’s largest minority (PWDs) but were recognised to be more disadvantaged, saying though data from Ghana’s 2010 Population and Housing Census suggested that about three per cent of the population was persons living with disability, recent estimates suggest that the disability rate was about 10 per cent, with females constituting majority of them.

Ghana Blind Union

In another statement, the women’s wing of the Ghana Blind Union has urged the government to address the peculiar needs of persons with visual impairment, particularly women, to ensure their equal participation and access to education, innovation and technology opportunities, employment, rehabilitation, among other basic rights.

"As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we appeal to the state, stakeholders and civil society to mainstream the right of women with disabilities in their development plans, programmes and policies,” a statement signed and issued by the President of the Women’s wing of the Ghana Blind Union, Madam Ruth Akua Aguure, to mark this year’s International Women’s Day celebration said.

“The Ghana Blind Union Women’s wing joins the United Nations to celebrate International Women’s day on March 8, 2019,” the statement said.

The statement urged the government to end all forms of discrimination against women with disabilities and put in place the necessary provision to promote gender equality and other fundamental rights of all women.

“It is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implantation of innovations that shape our future society,” the statement said.

UN Convention

The statement said Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognised that women and girls with disabilities were subject to multiple discriminations and in that regard states should take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.