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Election Petiton: Gender-based groups call for peace

BY: Arku Jasmine

 Mr Peter Jones displaying the signed peace jersey., with him are some female porters. Anne  Firth Murray, the founding president of Global Fund for Women, recounts on her blog, the agony of a widow in Rwanda after being impregnated by a rapist: “The child was born, but most of the time I am not happy with him, especially because he reminds me of the bad images of the people who raped me.

"I lost seven children in the war and I am now bringing up a child of bad luck….It is very hard for me….The pain never goes away….I cannot love this child….It’s hell on earth and the genocide continues to live with me,” She quotes the widow as having said.

The impact of war on children is also profound. In the last two decades, over two million children are said to have been killed in wars and conflicts, 4.5 million children disabled and another 12 million left homeless. Today, there are 300,000 child soldiers, including many girls who are forced to 'service' the troops.

According to a report by a United Nations military adviser, Major General Patrick Cammaert, in 2008, “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern conflict.”

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (Resolution 1325) adopted in October 2000, advocates an increased participation by women in peace-keeping activities. It also recognises the special vulnerability of women in times of conflict and the first-ever UN study on the impact of violent conflict on women and girls was issued in 2002.

Again in 2002, then Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan issued a report to the Security Council in which he acknowledged that “Women and children are disproportionately targeted in contemporary armed conflict and constitute the majority of all victims,” and that during conflict, women and girls were vulnerable to all forms of violence, in particular sexual violence and exploitation, including torture, rape, mass rape, forced pregnancy, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, and trafficking.

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As Ghanaians await the Supreme Court verdict on the 2012 election petition, gender-based groups have added their voices to the calls for peace being made across the country.

Young Women For Peace

In a call for peace before and after the Supreme Court verdict on Thursday, August 29, 2013, the Young Women for Peace project under the Ark Foundation observed that Ghana has managed to enjoy peace during the tenure of four different leaders, which it said was a tremendous feat in an era of the political instability that has existed and continues to exist in our world.

“Judged the most peaceful African country, along with Malawi and Botswana by the Global Peace Initiative in 2011, Ghana is an example to the world and must continue to do so even after the court’s decision for continuous development”.

In a statement signed by Ms Akosua Ampofo of the Ark Foundation, The Young Women for Peace called on Ghanaians to learn to trust both the security agencies and the judiciary, saying that mistrust and suspicion quickly breed an atmosphere of conflict; and where conflict exists, women and children suffer the most”.

The Pamela Bridgewater Project

The Director of the Pamela Bridgewater Project, Mr Yahaya Alhassan, has called on Ghanaians to remember the Kayayei Peace Jersey as the country awaits the Supreme Court verdict.

The jersey is an iconic symbol of peace initiated on behalf of female porters (Kayayei) during the 2012 election.

The project is therefore appealing to political parties to honour their peace promise on the jersey by re-establishing Ghana as an oasis of peace and stability to bring the benefit to women and children he said.

The jersey has the endorsement of former presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John A. Kufuor;  Speaker of Parliament, Mr Doe Adjaho; the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Alhaji Mohammed  Alhassan Ahmed; Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr Kwadwo Afari Djan; Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Sharon Barli and UEFA President, Michel Platini.

Others who signed on the jersey were, the presidential candidates of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Dr Abu Sakara Foster; NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo and his running mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; PNC’s Hassan Ayariga in the 2012 elections; the National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Jake Obetsebi Lamptey; General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Asiedu Nketia; Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Alex Segbefia; and the late Mr David Lamptey, among others, who all pledged and called for peace during the 2012 election.

Three gender-based coalitions

The Coalition On Domestic Violence Legislation In Ghana (DV Coalition), Women’s Manifesto Coalition, and the Network of Women’s Right In Ghana (NETRIGHT) say as Ghanaians look to Thursday, August 29, 2013 for the Supreme Court’s verdict on the election petition, “we would humbly urge all protagonists to take note of the fact that there is only one supreme interest: Mother Ghana”.

The coalitions said given the negative effects of conflicts on women, “we strongly urge all sides in this litigation to commit to preserving the peace of Ghana”.

A statement signed by the Convenor of the three coalitions, Mr Adolf Awuku Bekoe, said the stability, sanctity and supremacy of Ghana must not be subordinated to any inordinate, selfish and partisan interest. “Our expectation is that any post-August 29, 2013 government of Ghana should prioritise national integration and inclusive citizenship.

In this regard, the coalitions suggest in addition to the many envisaged electoral reforms consequential to the election petition, that the government should organise a national dialogue to discuss and agree on measures to promote national integration.

By Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho/Daily Graphic/Ghana