International Women’s Day 2022: Pass the affirmative action bill – WOMEC prods Govt

Women, Media, and Change (WOMEC) has asked the government to take immediate action to expedite the passage of Ghana's affirmative action bill into law.

“Ghana must take steps to ensure that women and girls are put at the centre of planning and programming and that calls for the affirmative action bill to be passed into law,” Dr Charity Binka, Executive secretary of WOMEC, said in a statement on Tuesday.

It was in line with the commemoration of this year's International Women's Day (IWD) on the theme “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”.

According to the statement, International Women's Day 2022 provides another opportunity to reflect on issues of gender equality and the promotion of girls' rights, as well as an opportunity for all stakeholders in Ghana to work together to ensure that the affirmative action bill becomes law.

WOMEC is a non-governmental organization in Ghana that promotes the use of media for women's advancement by providing women with a public voice and visibility through the media.

WOMEC has a sub-theme, “Empowering the Girl Child, A Necessary Tool for Closing the Gender Gap,” as part of its campaign activities for the 2022 International Women's Day.

The first IWD was held in March 1911, when women and men gathered to discuss the importance of women having basic rights such as the right to vote, the right to work, the right to speak out in public, and the right to equal pay.

“Today is 2022 Day, an opportunity to recognize the courage, resilience, and fortitude of women all over the world in the face of discrimination, violence, and abuse on a daily basis,” the statement said.

The pandemic has exacerbated the situation, it added. “As UN Secretary-General António Guterres rightly pointed out in his message to mark the Day, the clock on women's rights is ticking backwards in too many areas.”

“Violence against women and girls is increasing. Because of the pandemic, many women are out of work, and many girls have dropped out of school.”

It stated that Ghana's 147th position out of 193 countries on the 2021 Inter-Parliamentary Union ranking of women in did not reflect well on a country that was the first in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence.

As a result, it urged that all efforts be directed toward the affirmative action law in order to address the disparities.

Only 40 of the 275 MPs are women, only 9 of the 49 ministers are women, only 10 of the 39 Deputy Ministers are women, and with the 16 regional ministers, only 2 are women.

In local government, the situation is similar, as only 38 of the 260 Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executives are females.

“At this rate, it may take Ghana over 300 years to achieve gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow,” according to the statement.

Despite the fact that the Constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women, disparities in education, employment, politics, leadership positions, and health for women continue to be a challenge.

Article 17(1) and (2) of the Constitution guarantee gender equality and the freedom of men, women, girls, and boys from discrimination based on social or economic status, religion, or ethnicity.

“Unfortunately, various forms of violence against women continue to exist in Ghana,” the statement said. Some people still believe that women belong in the kitchen.”

“Many girls are still being subjected to harmful and unhealthy practices like Trokosi and Female Genital Mutilation.”

Whiles recognizing the ravages of covid-19 on Ghana's economy and its impact on women's situations, WOMEC said there was more at stake now than ever and so the 2022 IWD celebration should not be business as usual.

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