Gender advocate and former Chair, Affirmative Action Law, National Working Committee Mrs Joana Opare has called on the government to nub its unconcern attitude towards passing the Affirmative Action Bill which has been pending Parliamentary attention for over a decade.
According to her the Bill, when passed, would go a long way to ensure the achievement of gender equality in the decision-making process in political, social, economic, and educational spheres of the country.
Mrs Opare made the call at a press conference in Accra on Wednesday, September 18, 2019.
The Affirmative Action Bill (AAB) which was drafted in the mid-60s, sought to promote a progressive increase in active participation of women in public life from a minimum of 30 per cent to parity of 50 per cent by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
It’s a set of needed actions designed to correct the history of systematic discrimination and exclusion of women in the decision-making process.
The Draft Bill (2018), which is yet to be transmitted to Cabinet for approval, had 36 clauses and six schedules to achieve targets, following evaluation, and had a memorandum which outlined in detail its purpose and design and provides detailed background and justification.
Nevertheless, Mrs Opare called for the Bill to be pass into law on or before the end of 2019, stating that the Bill captured silent gender issues, for which governments would be held reliable and accountable for, if not implemented or enforced.
In her view, “Without the active participation of women and the incorporation of women’s perspective at all levels of decision making, the goals of equality, development and peace, cannot be achieved, and development interventions and planning will not achieve sustainable results.”
The Gender Advocate said women’s equal participation in decision making was not only a demand for simple justice or democracy but also a necessary condition for their interest to be taken into account.
She identified cultural and socio-economic, women’s position in public life as well as education levels, income and limited access to leadership roles as some of the impediments to women full and active participation in decision making.
Mrs Opare further noted that these factors resulted in low number of female in parliament,pointing that out of a Parliament of 275, only 38 are women, in a country where 51.2 per cent of the population are females, adding ,“Statistics show that at the local levels there were 5,681 men as against 413 women at the district assembly level, which is the basic level of governance in the country, while at the unit committee level there are 344 women as against 5,034 men.”
This, she said need to be improved, hence the need for the AAB to be pass earlier before the next general elections.
The Bill, when passed, would promote democracy and good governance, equal participation, diversity in governance, alternative development paradigms, improved delivery of social services, and the relationship between government and local communities, she said.
It would also ensure political mobilisation, increased gender and sensitive practices, bring changes in people’s attitudes towards the environment, and deepen democracy and social transformation among other things.
On her part, the Executive Member of FIDA, Ghana, Mrs Irene Aborchie-Nyame (Esq), stated that Ghanaian women had been discriminated for far too long, to which in her view, was a violation of the Constitution.
“Discrimination, especially historic discrimination, cannot correct itself. It will take pragmatic efforts on the side of the state to bring about change. The state needs to pass the Bill to eliminate, to some extent, the institutional discrimination,” she stated.
The FIDA Executive Member indicated that the bill, when passed and implemented, would benefit not only women alone but men and the entire country.
Mr Manasseh Azure Awuni, an investigative Journalist formerly of JoyFm, called on colleague Journalists and the general media landscape to help promote the passage of the Bill by tailoring their reports to positively promote its passage.
He entreated the media, especially reporters and programs hosts to be culturally sensitive, avoid extreme advocacy, know how to target the right people at every stage of the Bill and be conversant with its content.
This, Mr Azure believed would help draw the policymakers and decision-makers think twice in the need to pass the bill and implement its policies.
The Affirmative Action Bill has suffered a number of setbacks for about 10 years now. The bill was supposed to increase the participation of women in decision making.
It provides for a 40 per cent representation and participation of women in governance, public positions of power and decision making.
The bill also proposes that anyone who insults a woman just because she is vying for public office should be liable for prosecution.
For instance, Clause 38 of the draft bill says that: “A person who victimises, obstructs or exerts undue influence and submits a female politician to verbal attack, among others, commits an offence.”
A promise made by a former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), Nana Oye Lithur, to ensure that the bill was passed by the end of 2016 was not fulfilled.
In November 2017, the then sector Minister, Mrs Otiko Afisa Djaba, also launched a campaign dubbed: ‘HeforShe’, an initiative that seeks to push for Parliament to pass the bill.
Following the delays in passing the bill, many gender activists have been critical of the government for dragging its feet in the passage of the bill into law.
In May 2018, the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to ensure that the Affirmative Action Bill was passed into law before the 2019 State of the Nation address, but that did not happen.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba