Afua Ansre (3rd from left), Senior Gender Specialist, UN Women, Dr Wilfred Ochan (4th from right), Resident Representative, UNFPA Ghana, and Halima S. Yakubu (left), Chief Director, Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, with some traditional and religious leaders at the meeting. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI
Afua Ansre (3rd from left), Senior Gender Specialist, UN Women, Dr Wilfred Ochan (4th from right), Resident Representative, UNFPA Ghana, and Halima S. Yakubu (left), Chief Director, Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, with some traditional and religious leaders at the meeting. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI

Eliminate violence against women, girls — Gender Specialist

A senior Gender Specialist, UN Women, Afua Ansre, has said that religious and cultural leaders are key to shifting social norms and driving the critical change needed to end gender-based violence.

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She explained that violence had a detrimental impact on survivors, as well as their communities, and when dealt with, it would enhance women's full participation in society. "It stunts social and economic growth.

 A life free from the fear and experience of violence is a social and economic imperative. We owe it to ourselves and our communities to ensure that we eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls," she noted.

Cycle

She added that dignity, sanctity of life and fairness are values enshrined in many religious and community doctrines, including those that Ghanaians and Africans ascribe to, hence the need to help ourselves to stop the cycle.

"Gender-based violence, in all its forms, violates human principles, and if we value the safety of our community members, if we believe what human beings carry in them, the essence of God, then we must stand squarely against gender-based violence," she said.

Consultation

Ms Ansre was speaking at a consultation conference with cultural and faith leaders in the country to examine their role in addressing human rights violations. Held in Accra on Monday, the consultation was geared towards listening and learning from their experiences in tackling the challenge of violence against women and girls.

The event brought together religious leaders, traditional leaders, gender enthusiasts, lawyers, representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, and students, among others.

For his part, the Resident Representative of UNFPA, Dr Wilfred Ochan, stated that the continuing violence against women clearly demonstrated the need for a greater understanding of masculinity.

“This intersects with notions of what it means to be a female as social norms and practices that give rise to some of these abuses are accepted as normal,” he said.

Sustenance

He continued that women and girls were very critical to the existence of society and the sustenance of communities. “Critically assessing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from poverty, right through to partnerships, you will find the relevance of women throughout.

However, we know that women continue to face challenges and, in fact, since the COVID time, some of the gains made on gender equality and women empowerment have been reversed. This calls for some quick and definite actions before we can advance again,” he noted.

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