Participants in a Zonal Dialogue on the status of women in decision-making have advised Ghanaian women to take advantage of opportunities available to them to increase their participation in decision-making, and promote gender equality.
They argued that strengthening women’s participation in decision-making at the community and national levels, was necessary to bridge disparities in the gender gap in order to catch up with the agenda of all-inclusive government.
The meeting, held at Kpong Ensign College of Public Health in the Eastern Region, was organised by the Gender Ministry, in collaboration with the Youth and Women Empowerment (YOWE) organisation, and sponsored by STAR Ghana Foundation.
It was attended by identifiable groups such as beauticians and dressmakers association, women health workers, women in police service, women in fire service, market women, among other women’s groups.
Some of the topics discussed included equal rights of women under the 1992 Constitution, women in Ghana and their roles in the society, lack of women’s access to resources than men to enable them to participate in political decision-making, the different challenges facing women in urban and rural areas.
In her address, the Director of Administration of the Eastern Regional Coordination Council, Ms Golda Asante, said though the Constitution guaranteed equal participation of men and women in decision-making, there was low representation of women in Parliament and at the level of local governance.
She said out of 230 parliamentarians in 2008, 211 were men representing 90.7 per cent, while that of women was 19 representing 8.3 per cent. In 2012, out of 275 parliamentarians, 247 were men and the women were 28, a percentage of 89.8 and 10.2 per cent respectively. She said the little marginal increase was in 2016 which out of 275 parliamentarians, women were 35 representing 12.75 per cent.
Ms Asante said out of 33 Members of Parliament in the Eastern Region, 28 were men and five were women, while in the Volta Region, there were 21 male MPs as against five women, and pointed out that, it was a clear indication of male dominance in the country’s political governance though the country’s population was 51 per cent women and 49 per cent men.
The guest speaker mentioned some barriers that deterred women from active participation in governance as a result of fear of name-calling such as ‘Iron Lady’, ‘Mami Gyata’ and ‘witch’ among others,while lack of resources for campaigns, lack of confidence to take up leadership positions and women’s domestic responsibilities also compounded the situation.
To increase women participation in governance and in other levels of decision-making, the participants suggested increase in advocacy and women’s empowerment programmes, creation of enabling environment for gender equality, dealing with socio-cultural barriers and strengthening the capacity of women and girls to increase their access to education and employment.
The Executive Director of YOWE, Mr Emmanuel Siakwa, described the forum as very relevant, saying it would go a long way to help address challenges affecting women in the country.
16 days of activism
The Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Manager of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Eunice Abenyadzi, said coincidentally, the programme took place during the observation of 16 days of activism against gender violence (November 25-December 10 ) and called for women to ensure that they built collective movement of pressing and claiming their rights to participation, access and livelihood.
The Lower Manya Krobo Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Simon Kweku Tetteh, stressed the need for girls to continue to advance to higher academic levels in order to get higher positions in the future.
Cape Coast forum
A similar forum held in Cape Coast, the Central Regional capital, for participants to deliberate on the progress and prospects for gender equality in Ghana- reports Shirley Asiedu-Addo, Cape Coast.
Organised by the Star Ghana Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, participants were drawn from the security services, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and faith-based organisations.
In her address, the Central Regional Director for the Department of Gender, Mrs Thywill Kpe, spoke about the low level of women in the district assemblies in the region, saying seven districts in the region had no elected assembly women
She said it was necessary to increase women’s participation in decision-making at the district level to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those that related to gender equality.
She said it was in the nation's interest to harness all its human resources both male and female to accelerate growth.
A Representative of Star Ghana Foundation, Mrs Eunice Agbenyadzi, for her part, observed that though there had been some achievement in providing equal opportunities for both men and women after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, in 1995, there still remained a lot to be done to push women up the ladder of progress, growth and development.
Mrs Gifty Nyomi of Coastal Television in Cape Coast said the station was committed to the partnership with Star Ghana to build the confidence of women and to bridge the gender disparity gap.
The Kontihemaa of the Oguaa Traditional Area, Nana Ama Eyiaba, who chaired the function, called for support for women’s development saying “progress and development for women was progress for all.”