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Affirmative Action Bill for Parliament by September

BY: Arku Jasmine

Nana Oye Lithur, Minister for Gender, Children and Social ProtectionThe Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection will by the end of September, lay an Affirmative Action draft bill before Parliament to help address the gender imbalances in the society.

Nana Oye Lithur, Sector Minister, who announced this at the 6th Biennial Conference of District Assembly Women, said the law would address the startling gender inequalities in the society and ensure the full inclusiveness of women in the decision making process.

The conference brought together women across the country to discuss the district assembly elections in 2014 among other issues that affects women in the communities.

The Minister said a validation workshop had been held to agree on certain issues, including submission of the bill for cabinet approval and lobbying, which is scheduled from August to September.

She said the Ministry firmly believes that an equal representation of women and men in decision making would reflect a more accurate composition of the society.

Nana Oye Lithur said the law is the only way for Ghana to attain gender equality with respect to women’s participation in decision making, since it provides legally mandated systems, structures and policies to ensure women’s equal participation.

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“There is every indication therefore that the passage of the affirmative action law is a strategy to achieve gender equality,” she stressed.

She noted that the law would hasten women’s empowerment which would eventually contribute to poverty reduction and ultimately to sustainable national development.

Mr Kwasi Oppong Fosu, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said women have little influence in the society, explaining that the present 14 per cent of women elected to the Assemblies is not very encouraging as against the target of at least 30 per cent.

He noted that the reproductive roles of women take a lot of time and hinders their participation in local governance

Mr Oppong-Fosu said an affirmative action law could work to improve gender equality in political representation.

He said his Ministry had put in place affirmative action to help correct gender disparities.

“The Ministry has instituted the provision of quota systems for assembly women by issuing a directive that 30 per cent of all government appointees to the district should be women.”

Mr Oppong-Fosu said: “The time is ripe for women and men to take their destiny into their own hands and confront the development agenda of our country together for the benefit of our people.”

Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Director of ABANTU, an NGO that advocates women’s rights, said the world would soon be evaluating the Millennium Development Goals and would put together the Sustainable Development Goals which is the next set of goals to guide the world’s development.

She said it is important and timely that women raise their concerns to ensure that they are not ignored.

Professor Takyiwaa Manu, Board Chairman of ABANTU, who presided over the event, expressed concern about the low representation of women in major decision making programmes.

She said Ghana missed an opportunity during the elections to increase women representation in parliament.

She said the roles assembly women play are significant in the socio-economic development of communities and yet Ghana falls short of the minimum 30 per cent threshold that has been advocated by the United Nations.

Source: GNA/Ghana