Violence against women, girls barrier to gender equality — Minister

BY: Rejoice Lavinia Eklu

Violence against women and girls has been identified to be a barrier to gender equality in most countries around the world, including Ghana, the Caretaker Minister of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), Mrs. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, has said.

She said despite the numerous ongoing programmes and interventions, the canker persisted.

Mrs. Dapaah observed that violence against women and girls was not only a social canker but a developmental challenge which affected a large number of the Ghanaian population and their contribution to national development.

Study

“A recent study by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana, in revealed that Ghana lost $18.9 million, an equivalent of GH¢73.5 million in 2016 as the economic cost of violence against women and girls, including intimate partner violence.

“The study also revealed that violence against women and girls could deepen household poverty due to the inability of the survivor to work and the expenditure in medical care. These revelations are very disturbing,” Mrs. Dapaah stated.

She was speaking at a launch of 16 days of activism against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) organised by the MOGCSP in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) office in Ghana in Accra on Wednesday (November 24).

Campaign

The 16 Days of Activism against SGBV is an annual international campaign that is held on November 25 to December 10, which is Human Rights Day.

It seeks to intensify education and step up actions, strategies and plans to respond appropriately to violence against women.

The global theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against SGBV is “Orange the world: End violence against women now”.

Present at the launch were members of the diplomatic corps, development partners, civil society organisations (CSOs) and students.

Activities lined up for this year’s campaign included regional campaigns, radio and TV talk shows, social media campaigns and a walk.

Affirmative Action

Mrs. Dapaah noted that violence against women denied victims their fundamental human rights and freedoms, explaining that the adverse consequences of violence on battered women and girls impacted on their health, psychological and emotional well-being.

As part of efforts to address SGBV in the country, Mrs. Dapaah mentioned that the ministry in collaboration with the UNFPA had established a crises management and response centre “Orange Support Centre” and had also trained 40 market executive as paralegals in 2021 to augment the effort of the ministry.

She called on the government to pass the Affirmative Action Bill before the end of 2021, saying “Ghana cannot develop without the contributions of women who form the majority.”

Equal Participation

The UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, Mr. Charles Abani, commended the government for its effort in the fight against SGBV.

He said the UN was working to make the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality for women and girls, adding that the UN “stands behind women's equal participation in all aspects of life.”

Constituting efforts to ensure equality, he said the UN initiated a “No-Manel campaign” which advocated the representation of qualified women and girls on every decision-making stage or panel.

For her part, the Head of the Domestic Violence Secretariat, Ms. Malonin Asibi, encouraged stakeholders to join the MoGCSP to continue the camping even after the official campaign.

“We all have the duty to sustain this campaign until SGBV is reduced significantly,” she said.