The Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), a network of individuals and organisations dedicated to women’s rights and gender equality in Ghana, has welcomed the reparations that have been offered Ms Cecilia Awuni, a nursing student who was sacked from the examination hall while writing her final examinations because she was pregnant.
It said although the reparation constituted damage control that could only be partial, “we still draw relief from the chance that the Nursing and Midwifery Council has provided the student to undertake the examinations, according to reports. We salute the student and others supporting her for bringing the issue to public attention, giving visibility to an ongoing problem”.
A statement signed by its Convenor, Ms Pauline Vande-Pallen, said notwithstanding attempts to repair the damage and the ongoing legal suit, “we of NETRIGHT want to use this occasion as a platform for discussing women’s rights generally and maternity protection in particular.” It added that “our concern stems from a number of factors. The most important is the worrying recurrence of this abuse and its implications for women’s rights to higher education and decent employment”.
It recalled similar incidents which made headlines on May 27, 2016 at the Mampong Nurses and Midwifery Training School in the Ashanti Region where three pregnant students were denied the right to register and write their licensing examinations.
It said again in July 2013, at Asante Mampong, at the St Monica’s College of Education, five female students were refused approval to write their third year examinations on the grounds that they were pregnant.
Outside the educational arena, it recalled a 2016 uproar when a personnel provider associated with tiGo, a mobile network provider, was reported to have issued a memo to female staff of leave without pay during maternity without security of their jobs.
The network said the interdiction inflicted on the student nurse, Ms Cecilia Awuni and others, was not just illegal, but that it breached several rights which included Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ILO Conventions 183 on Maternity Protection as well as 156 on Workers with Family Responsibilities.
Call to action
“As a network, we of NETRIGHT want to go beyond just condemning it once and add our voice to the full scale investigation on the extent of such breaches not only within the nursing and midwifery educational institutions but all other organisations and workplaces to demand the repeal of any such existing policies and practices in all private and public institutions for being in contravention of the national constitution and other laws.
It also called for a national mechanism to monitor the adequacy or otherwise of provisions for supporting women during pregnancy, childbirth and nursing in order to prevent instances of opportunity cost to women’s personal and professional advancement.
It also called for a reporting structure on implementation gaps and adherence to existing provisions as well as education and awareness creation for all in management positions on the body of rights women are entitled to and the need to support these rights.