Gender advocates in the country should push for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into law the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana, Dr Raymond Atuguba, has said.
He described the bill as one with good intentions to empower women to be economically independent, adding, “This is a bill which, among others, seeks to tackle gender inequality through affirmative action".
Dr Atuguba said the bill had been drafted and received Cabinet’s approval, but it was yet to go through Parliament for the formal processes of passage into law.
At the midterm workshop for the “Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW)” project of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), he said the Affirmative Action Bill, if passed, would address the legal and regulatory frameworks in the country that discriminated against women.
The workshop, on the theme, “Growth in West Africa: impacts of extractive industry on women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana,” was attended by graduate students and players in the extractive industry.
The research work, sponsored by the International Development Research Centre of Canada and the International Institute of Advanced Studies, is expected to be completed in September this year.
It is being jointly carried out by researchers in Ghana and Cote d’lvoire and seeks to examine women’s economic empowerment in an extractive growth-driven economy of the two countries.
Dr Atuguba, who is a member of the Ghana research team, said the legal and regulatory framework for the extractives in the country did not directly empower women, explaining, “Our extractives laws generally contain no provisions dedicated to women in economic empowerment (WEE).”
Describing them as “soft laws”, Dr Atuguba said the National Gender Policy 2015 was one excellent bill which sought to mainstream gender equality concerns into the national development processes for equitable livelihood for women and men by improving the social, legal, civic, political, economic and sociocultural conditions of persons, particularly women and children.
He said the key areas it focused on included women empowerment and livelihood, women’s rights and access to justice and gender roles and relations.
“The policy has several objectives that seek to empower women economically. While most of these relate to women economic empowerment generally, they remain relevant for women economic empowerment in the extractive industries,” he explained.
The Principal Investigator in the research work, Dr William Baah-Boateng, explained that even though the study was yet to be completed, it was evident that gender differences in favour of men were quite strong in the extractives sector in Ghana with the effect of undermining WEE in an extractive-driven growth economy.
He said even those women working in the extractive industry were mostly engaged in elementary occupations and woefully under-represented in professional and managerial jobs where earnings were high.
Objective of research
Dr Baah-Boateng said the general objective of the study was, therefore, to examine women economic empowerment in an extractive growth-driven economy of Ghana.
“Specifically the paper assesses the extent of women participation vis-a-vis men in the extractive sector. Gender earnings differences in the extractive sector and to what extent are education differences and job status influences gender earnings differentials,” Dr Baah-Boateng further explained.
He said the study showed that 2.8 per cent of males as against less than one per cent of females engaged in the extractive industry in 2013, “adding that gender composition was, thus, skewed in favour of men and declining.
Dr Baah-Boateng said the female composition was highest in quarrying where technology usage and education requirement were very low, resulting in lower earnings of females relative to male.