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Co- Convener, for the CSO Cluster on Decentralization and Citizens’ Participation, Efua Edith Chidi

Ghana’s Affirmative Action a reality or a mere rhetoric

August 21, 2019

By Ahedor Jessica

Co- Convener, for the CSO Cluster on Decentralization and Citizens’ Participation, Efua Edith Chidi

Co- Convener, for the CSO Cluster on Decentralization and Citizens’ Participation, Efua Edith Chidi

 

The CSOs Cluster on Decentralization and Citizens Participation, a body of 62 active CSOs in Ghana and other interest groups, has officially out doored a campaign aimed at calling on the Ghanaian government to fast-track the laying of the Affirmative Action bill towards its passage by its current Parliament. Affirmative Action is a set of temporary measures targeted at protected groups in order to enable or encourage members of those groups to overcome or minimize disadvantage to meet the different needs of the protected group.

In Ghana, Affirmative Action was needed to fill the gaps created by gender imbalances in the country’s political, economic and social spaces. Many stakeholders were engaged with public resources to map out the gaps and put together a draft for consideration and passage. 13 years down the line, this bill is yet to be a reality.

Ghana has committed to Affirmative Action by signing and endorsing the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Platform for Action, the SDGs and the Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender Equality which set a minimum target of 30% of women in decision making position by 2015, the African Union (AU) Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality which targets 50% representation of men and women in public and political offices in Member States. Unfortunately, in the Ghanaian parliament, female representation is just 13.8%; only 23 women out of 124 ministers are representing just 18.55%; less than 10% women representation in all District Assemblies, this clearly demonstrated that despite the provisions under the constitution and the ratification of various international human rights laws, these laws can only be useful if an Affirmative Action Law is not passed and implemented to create an environment which is gender inclusive and gender responsive.

This, the co-convener of CSOs Cluster on Decentralization and Citizens Participation  Efua Edith Chidi argued that, since the Country’s independence, most plans for Women empowerment has become a mere rhetoric because the recognition of the role played by women activists during the struggle for independence, where 10 women were nominated and appointed to the legislature as part of the introduction of Representation of the People (Women Members) Bill in 1960 to establish consciousness for gender equality and women’s empowerment has been avoided by successive governments.

She cited countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi and Guinea Bissau who started the Affirmative Action journey later than Ghana, but had passed their bills and are implementing with impressive progress while Ghana marks time with even the laying of the bill in parliament.

In responding to this actions by the CSOs, the Department of Gender under the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection has acknowledged the receipt of the written petition sent to the department seeking the update on the bill. The Director of the Department Rev, Dr Comfort Asare in a two page document wrote back to the group stating chronologically efforts made by government from 2011 to 2018 stating that bill is currently with the Ministry for some comments, after it went through series of scrutiny at the Attorney General’s department.

Rev. Dr Asare says the next steps to be taken before the bill is passed includes the Resubmission of the bill to cabinet, Gazetting the bill, Tabling the bill before parliament and advocacy and sensitization on the bill. She however did not give any time frame of which the bill will be resubmitted for further actions talk less of when her Department will be done commenting on the bill.

Background

It will be recalled that, at the first United Nations Conference on Women in 1975,Ghana set up the National Council on Women and Development (NCWD) now known as the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection as the national machinery, to support government-wide efforts in empowering women through income generation, social mobilization and social development.

After the Beijing Conference in 1995, NCWD submitted a proposal for Affirmative Action and Gender mainstreaming to the Office of the President, to formulate guidelines for the promotion of Gender equality, rights and opportunities for women in Ghana. Eventually, the NCWD was placed within the Office of the President; with linkages to relevant MMDAs to enable it play an active role in facilitating cooperation between all agencies of government, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). It set the pace for the establishment of an improved administrative framework for addressing women’s affairs by creating Gender Desk Officers (GDOs) in most MDAs. Their role was to ensure that gender concerns are incorporated into sector policies, plans and programmes of MDAs. Mainstreaming Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment into Ghana’s Development Efforts, in May, 2015.

But successive governments have paid lip services to the passage of the bill after numerous call from all fronts.

 

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