Stakeholders urged to push for passage of affirmative action bill
The Ghana National Chapter of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) has called on stakeholders to step up advocacy efforts to accelerate the passage of the Affirmative Action (Gender Equality) Bill, which has been in parliament for over a decade without it being passed into law.
The Bill which was put before parliament in 2016 seeks to promote women’s participation and remove the historical low representation of women to a minimum of 40 per cent in all policy making spaces while promoting democracy and development through effective participation of all citizens.
Affirmative Action is a temporary mechanism aimed at removing discrimination, improving the rights of marginalised groups, who have been historically disadvantaged.
The drafting of Ghana's Affirmative Action Law began as far back as 2011 and the government has made promises to get the bill passed.
The call on stakeholders was made at the first in-person planning meeting in Accra to discuss strategies to help the network influence and address key gender equality issues, including affirmative action, women’s participation in the upcoming local government elections and women, peace and security.
Senior Gender Specialist at UN Women, Afua Ansre, said experts had established that women would require 136 years to catch up with men and that efforts such as the passage of the bill in Ghana could make it easy for women in Ghana to catch up.
“We are not competing with men. We are only saying that when it comes to the brains, capabilities and abilities, we should all be given the same opportunities because we can all do the same thing,” she said.
She said currently in Ghana’s parliament, there were only 20 women each from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) out of 275 parliamentarians which was not good for making progress.
Gender parity in decision-making positions, she said, was crucial in addressing gender inequality and promoting development.
The Presidential Advisor on Gender, Dr Angela Asante–Essah, said the government was committed to supporting women and the passage of the affirmative action bill.
She said her office would coordinate with the AWLN Ghana Chapter to ensure organisations working to champion the issues of women did not work in silos but collaborate to achieve the desired results.
The Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus in Parliament, Agnes Naa Momo Lartey, said it was important to support women before, during and after electing them to parliament and district level elections.
“Supporting women is not just getting them into office but sustaining them.
So far, the support has not been very strong,” she said.
Interim Steering Committee Member, Sheila Minka-Premo, highlighted the importance of the bill in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in Ghana.
She said the passage of the bill would help create a conducive environment for women, eliminate biases and enhance the participation of women in national development hence the need to push for its passage.
The Chairperson of the Steering Committee of AWLN Ghana Chapter, Dr Charity Binka, said AWLN was anchored on six pillars comprising political participation, peace and security, financial inclusion, young women leadership, empowering rural women and social mobilisation.
She said the network would serve as a bridge between women leaders, policy makers and civil society organisations that would facilitate meaningful collaboration and support to amplify the efforts of non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations working towards gender equality and women’s empowerment in Ghana and Africa.