‘Pass Affirmative Action Law’

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe

The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Ghana) and other gender activists have called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to make good his promise to ensure that the Affirmative Action Bill is passed into law before the end of the year.

The bill which seeks to promote gender equity and equality in the political, social, economic and governance sectors has been left to rust since 1998.

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Currently, only 37 out of the 275 Members of Parliament (MPs), representing 13.8 per cent, are females.

The picture is worse when it comes to the number of women on the boards of public institutions, the Council of State and ministerial appointments.
During the State of the Nation Address on February 9, 2018, President Akufo-Addo gave an assurance that the bill would be passed before the end of 2018.

News conference


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At a news conference in Accra, the gender activists expressed worry that the bill had still not been laid before Parliament, with barely two months to the end of the year.

The news conference which was organised by FIDA, in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), drew participants made up of women leaders from political parties, civil society organisations (CSOs) and other gender advocates.

The acting Executive Director of FIDA, Mrs Susan Aryeetey, noted that the lack of interest by successive governments to pass the bill into law was inimical to women’s empowerment and inclusive governance.

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"We are calling on our President who is a human rights lawyer and gender champion to walk the talk to ensure that women are equitably represented at all levels of governance and public space," she stressed.

She said further delays in the passage of the bill would mean that discrimination against women at workplaces, non-equity at all levels of education, as well as low percentages of females in the security agencies would be entrenched.

Action

For her part, the Executive Director of the Ark Foundation, Mrs Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, said the time had come for all who matter to act to ensure that the bill was passed.

"The President and other politicians must attach the importance they attach to the processes for the creation of new regions to this bill as well. This is a matter of social justice because the rights of women have been infringed on for far too long.

"Ghana is touted as a beacon of democracy but we are almost at the bottom of the list in terms of inter-parliamentary representation in Africa and the world. Our President is a gender champion and must act swiftly to save Ghana's image," she stressed.

The Programmes Coordinator of FES, Ms Ernestina Ofoe, for her part, said the need for urgency in the passage of the bill was non-negotiable.

“We need some urgency in the processes to pass this bill because from the way things are going, it does not look like it will be passed this year,” she said.

Ms Ofoe called for fairness to females in the appointment of persons to positions of authority, while the bill was being worked on.