Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
‘Queen mothers also deserve state stipend’
The Ghanaian Times,
Winston Tamakloe, Ho
Queen mothers in the Volta Region have questioned why paramount chiefs and chiefs are given stipends by the state and not queen mothers. They explained that they have been supporting their male counterparts to govern their respective communities and wonder why the state should deprive them of their share of royalties.
“We have supportive of our male counterparts and the state must take another look at how stipends should be disbursed among traditional authorities so that together we can sustain peace, unity, harmony and stability within our communities to accelerate socio-economic development,” they stressed.
The queen mothers questioned and raised concerns at a leader workshop on ‘building knowledge and skills of women in leadership roles’ in the Volta Region at the weekend. It was organised by Royal Vision International, a non-governmental organisation, focusing on women in leadership roles in their communities in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Children’s’ Affairs (MOWAC).
Mamaga Amega Kofi Bra II, Queen mother of Peki traditional area, urged the government to take another look at the payment of stipends for their male counterparts and to include queen mothers since they also played crucial roles in the governance of their communities. She said male chauvinism was still paramount in the society and there was the need to paramount chiefs, chiefs and their elders to partner their queen mothers to ensure peace, unity, harmony and stability within communities.
Ms Edam Wuttor, Research Officer of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, urged women to be assertive in any leadership responsibility assigned to them so that their male counterparts would be supportive of them. She called on all women to also unite rather than becoming their own enemies for their male counterparts to take advantage of it to suppress them.
Captain George Nfodjoh (rtd), Member of Parliament for Ho Central, advised women in leadership roles to strengthen their guidance and counselling duties to restore peace and unity within feuding communities to reduce conflicts. He tasked queen mothers to join their male counterparts to fight moral decadence within society which stood the risk of portraying their communities in a negative light.
Ms Ellen Alai, regional head of the Department of Women, stressed the need for women to fight for leadership roles since it would not be presented to them on a silver platter and that they should not use it to shun other women but rather use it to advcne the cause of affirmative action.
LEAP Scheme is sustainable
Charles Benoni Okine
An economist of the
Under the programme, which is a component of the National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS), the government has proposed to pay between GH¢8 and GH¢15 to extremely poor households in the country every two months to enable them engage in self-sustaining income generating ventures to support themselves and their dependents.
Reacting to concerns about the sustainability and feasibility of the scheme in
According to data from the Ghana Statistical Service, extremely poor people in the country live on about 50 cents per day. Dr Osei said a special software had been designed to ensure that all information gathered was duly processed to select those who truly qualified as potential beneficiaries. He says the system has been so designed that there cannot be any political manipulations.
Dr Osei said those who worked on the programme have learnt a lot from the experiences of
On the financial sustainability and of the programme, he said “the programme only targets the bottom 20 per cent of the extremely poor households in the country and the amount to be spent on them was nothing we should about at all,” he said.
In the first year of the programme, 15, 000 in 50 districts of the country have been targeted and the total expenditure for that year will be GH¢8 million. The second year will cater for 35,000 also in 50 districts while 500, 000 households in 70 districts would be reached in the third year. In the fourth year, 100,000 households in 138 dsitricts would benefit while the final year will cover all the 230 districts. In the final year, GH¢26 million will be spent and this, he said, constituted only 0.1 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Meanwhile, a sensitisation workshop on the scheme had been held at Koforidua, reports Nana Konadu Agyeman. The Project Co-ordinator of the NSPS, Mrs Angela Asante-Asare, said the scheme, the first of its kind to be implemented in
The Workshop, which was among other things, aimed at sensitising the participants to understand the concept and objectives of the scheme, was attended by the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Affram Asiedu, municipal and district chief executives, the presiding members of the assemblies and officials of the Department of Social Welfare.
According to the Project Co-ordinator of NSPS, the beneficiaries would comprise maily extremely poor citizens aged above 65 years, caregivers of orphans and vulnerable children, particularly those affected by HIV/AIDS and children with severe disabilities. Others she said, would include extremely poor subsistence farmers and fisher folks, persons with severe disabilities without productive capacity, preganct and lacating women with HIV/AIDS.
According to her, it had been estimated that 800,000 households in the country were extremely poor and did not have the capacity to meet their basic nutritional needs. Mrs Asante-Asare said the LEAP scheme, would enable the country to meet certain requirements of the Millennium Development Goals.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
‘Red Card’ to Trafficking of Women and Children
Naa Lartiokor Lartey
International sporting events have become fertile ground for human trafficking and sexual exploitation. This is in view of the fact that some women and girls find themselves among the large number of visitors who travel to countries where such events are held, become victims of the forced sex trade while others may be lured by false promises of lucrative temporary work or abducted from their countries.
Documented patterns of flagrant trafficking of children and women for prostitution during the 2006 World Cup tournament in
It is for this reason that before the commencement of the ongoing Ghana 2008 tournament, a number of individuals, organisations and human rights groups warned that sporting events should not become a major factor for anti-social vices, such as human trafficking and commercial sex activities.
The call seems not to have made the desired impact following media reports that activities of prostitutes, including children below 18 years, have intensified and brothels, drinking spots, tourist attraction sites and part of host cities have become breeding grounds for prostitution and sexual abuse of children.
An effective awareness campaign is a primary component of addressing human trafficking during international sporting events and
The “red card” can be seen as a centrepiece of any awareness campaign for international football tournament, as it is both attractive and useful to football fans. The simple message, “Red Card to Trafficking of Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation,” sends a clear message that could be easily misunderstood by the vast majority of participating countries, including hosts and visitors, as it will be stated in both English and French.
The front part of the card is red and associated with the reds cards given to players who severely violate the rules of the game and are disqualified from further participation. The back is yellow, which stands as a warning and will have the complete schedule of Ghana 2008 on it.
The “red card” will serve multiple purposes to all and will remand everybody that sexual exploitation of women and children has no place in Ghana 2008. The card can be used throughout the games for participants to constructively indicate to referees when they feel that a red or yellow card should be or was appropriately given to a player and it will be kept as a souvenir of the games and as a continuous reminder of the issue.
A similar awareness camping was carried out successfully in
One ways of distributing the “red cards” is adding it to every ticket purchased or handing them out at the gates of the stadia as spectators enter them.
Speaking at the launch of “Red Card” against trafficking, the Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Mrs. Angelina Baiden-Amissah, said the government was actively implementing the Human Trafficking Act (Act 694) 2005 and would hesitate to punish all those who indulge in human trafficking. She stressed that the issue of both internal and cross-border trafficking would not be taken lightly during the Ghana 2008 event and beyond. She said though
Touching on the response dot the government to the challenges of women and child trafficking, she mentioned the ratification of the West African multilateral agreement on Women and Children (Abidjan 2005) and the International Labour Organisation Convention No.182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour in June 2003.
Others include the launch of a 5-year time bound programme to eliminate the worst form of child labour and the passage of the Domestic Violence Bill in to an act in February 2007.
The Programmes Officer of Enslavement Prevention Alliance-West Africa, Mr Moses Kanduri, said if strong preventive measures were not put in place prior to and during Ghana 2008, the resources of the government and NGOs might not be sufficient to cope with the pos-event consequences of human trafficking. According to him, the rise in HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) levels is a correlating factor to international sporting events, especially when nationals from higher prevalence areas attend such events in large numbers.
The National Programme Co-ordinator of the International Labour Organisation, Mr Matthew Dally, said apart from drugs and arms, human trafficking was the next lucrative job world-wide and appealed to the law enforcement bodies to enforce the law against human trafficking to its fullest during the Ghana 2008 and beyond.
He said 1.2 million children are trafficked annually world-wide and between 200, 000 and 800,000 are in
He said there was need for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the rescue and prevention of child trafficking to strengthen and co-ordinate their activities to avoid duplication. He also called for regular training for the judiciary on human trafficking in order to enhance their knowledge on the subject to enable them to help to stop the offence.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Women’s economic empowerment key to reduction in HIV
Rebecca Quaicoe Duho
The inability of most women to negotiate for safe sex in relationships has been attributed to their dependence on their male counterparts for livelihood. Women in this kind of situation are subjected to sexual violence when they decide to postpone sexual intercourse for a moment for reasons of health, safety or tiredness.
This was made known at a two-day training workshop on effective reporting on women, journalists from Greater Accra, Eastern and Western regions organised by Women Media and Change (WOMEC) in
Because women who depend on their male counterparts are unable to provide for themselves they are also said not to be able to decide when their partners should use condoms and the situation is said to have left most women vulnerable to contracting the HIV in marriages or long-term relationships.
A doctor in Korle-Bu Fevers Unit, Dr Joseph Oliver-Commey, who gave an overview of the HIV situation in the country, said 63 per cent of the country’s HIV cases were women. Her said at the end of 2006, a total of 36,989 female adults were put on antiretroviral therapy as against a total of 26,833 male adults within the same year. He said women were commonly blamed for bringing the infection home, even when they had been faithful and their partners were openly promiscuous.
He projected that if adequate steps were not taken to halt the spread of the disease among the general populace, a total number of 214,910 would die form the disease by 2012, while 19,778 mothers would need Prevention of Mother Child Therapy (PMTCT). Dr Oliver-Commey said currently, the country was practising a new PMTCT strategy aimed at primary prevention of HIV infection, prevention of unintended pregnancies among HIV positive women, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV and provision of treatment, care and support for HIV positive mothers, their infants and families.
According to Ms Gertrude Adzo Akpalu of UNAIDS, some studies have shown that “in Ghana married women were most three times more likely to be infected with the HIV virus than those who had never been married.” She said the UNAIDS core HIV prevention policy actions addressed the issue of women, human rights and gender to push for countries to mainstream gender in all HIV programmes, projects, and policies, and more female-specific effective strategies that countries could adapt, adopt and develop.
Ms Akpalu said what was currently being done was women’s empowerment and encouragement of female Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) to advocate and prompted positive living through non-governmental organisation such as the ARK Foundation, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) and community- and faith-based organisations. She called for more education for women on the Domestic Violence Law and other policies and bills as well as more advocacy on the promotion of effective HIV strategies such as PMTCT, Voluntary Counselling and Testing and safer sex practices.
She called on the media and the private sector to help in raising awareness on issues of women, HIV and AIDS. She also called for an increased advocacy and promotion of gender-sensitive HIV-policies and laws such as the DV law, equity in distribution of HIV services, women-specific effective HIV intervention, review of cultural norms and practices, such as trokosi; domestic violence, marital rape and widowhood rites, which make women and girls more vulnerable to HIV, and property rights.
She also called for increased research on women and HIV, promotion of gender equity and human (women’s) rights in the global and national responses to HIV and AIDS in addition to the provision of adequate funds to help women tackle the HIV and AIDS crisis in the country. She also called on the Women’s Caucus in parliament to lobby governments, organisations, donor, communities and individuals to make women’s rights, HIV and reproductive health a reality. She further called for a strengthening of dynamic and formidable women’s groups to push the agenda of women, human rights tights reproductive health, HIV and AIDS forward.
The Executive Director of WOMEC, Mrs Charity Binka, said the time had come for women to stand up for their fellow women especially to reduce the level of stigmatisation against HIV positive people, especially women. She said female journalists when well trained, would serve as the right conduits to channels the message of stopping the stigma against HIV infected person, especially women.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Gender, ethnicity main deciding factors
Sam Okaitey & Kobby Asmah
Elected contenders for the December elections for the presidency of
The flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and former Vice-President, Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills, who was the first among the lot to be elected, also provided the first signal when the Daily Graphic contacted him early this week.
He was emphatic that among other qualities, his running mate would be somebody who had the interest of the nation at heart and who enjoyed the collective support of the party. Without mentioning any mane, Prof. Mills told the Daily Graphic that, “whoever will be nominated will be somebody who enjoys the support of the people and who can partner me to victory in election 2008.”
During the chat three names came up strongly, out of which one is destined to be picked by Prof. Mills for the ratification of the party’s National Executive Committee. They are Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, with whom the professor ran in 2004, the venerable John Mahama and the elegant and eloquent Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu.
However, and this early, Prof. Mills would not be pushed into disclosing any preference yet, saying, “I am not talking about a woman or a man, however as soon as we complete the discussion, it will be made public.” He drew attention to the point that the trend for naming a running mate had been three to four months before the elections, alluding that he would made that public announcement by August.
Within the camp of the flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, and the man with whom Professor Mills is tipped to run a close race for the presidency, the issues are similar and came to the fore on Tuesday when Nana Akufo-Addo visited chiefs and opinion leasers in Tamale and Damongo.
An insider disclosed to the Daily Graphic that one point which was made clear at the meetings with the Northern chiefs was a clear message that the Kuffour-Aliu formula which ensure a two-time victory for the NPP would be maintained, in which case Nana Addo would pick a Muslim from the North as his running mate. Further to that definite position, two names, one expected, the other a complete surprise, dropped from the meetings with the Northern chiefs to add a few that had been rumoured earlier.
From the gender side of the debate has emerged the name of the Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs, Honourable Hajia Alima Mahama, while for ethnic balance, the name of Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Iddris, was dropped, in addition to the surprise emergence of Alhaji M.N.D. Jawula, who appeared to have had the endorsement of the Northern chiefs.
While Hajia Mahama and Alhaji Iddris are persons whose party and political credentials are common knowledge, Jawula is a man known, not for politics, but for his depth and experience in public administration, civil service and football.
It is predictable, however, that depending on who between Professor Mill and Nana Akufo-Addo makes the first announcement, and in the unlikely event of the gender issue proving decisive in one camp, the ethnic one would play up in the other. A similar scenario of the gender-ethnic balance prevails in the camp of Conventions People’s Party (CPP) where, in spite of the fierce rebuttal this week from the Chairman of the party’s Publicity Committee, Mr. Kwesi Praat, Jnr, the name of Samia Nkrumah keeps dropping from the lips of other party insiders who prefer to remain anonymous for now.
One party insider told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the consideration of Samia Nkrumah goes deeper than the sentimental reason of her being the daughter of the party’s founder, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. “Samia is well educated and informed; she had a deeper appreciation of the Ghanaian and African issues than most of us think. Above all, from her base in
That notwithstanding, the Daily Graphic is reliably informed that the choice of Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom’s running mates for December general election could also be either Ibrahim Mahama, a veteran politician, Bright Akwetey, or Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, the last two of whom ran with Dr. Nduom for the CCP flag-bearership.
The signals from the People’s National Convention (PNC) point to another balancing act with strong indications that the party would repeat its1996 precedent when Dr. Edward Mahama, chose a female Professor Dede Mate, a former Deputy Health Minster in the Limann administration, as his running mate. And in line with that, Dr. Mahama this time is likely to pick Dr. Rose Kutin-Mensah, the Africa Regional Director of ABANTU for Development, a non-governmental organisation, or Dr. Ansa Kumi Quaye of the Political Science Department of the
Party Chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, however, declined to make any comments on the matter, saying it is the prerogative of the party flag bearer to nominate his running mate.
With such a formidable array of men and women in the Race for presidency, whom political observes say are equally matched in their intellectual and political credentials, a more crucial role may lie ahead for the running mates, and the PNC may set the stage by being the first to announce its running mate by the end of the month.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Choose women as running mates
The Ghanaian Times,
Winston Tamakloe, Ho
The Assembly member for Borsontoe electoral area in the Ho Municipality, Joycelyn Akorfa Ochlich, has urged presidential candidates for the 2008 elections to seriously consider females as their running mates.
She said, “it is not to late to take this necessary step to guarantee victory for democracy, good governance, rule of law and make women in Ghana proud,” adding “There are qualified women all over Ghana who are willing and waiting to be given the chance to occupy that high office.”
Speaking to the Times at Ho at the weekend, Mrs. Ochlich noted that a number of countries had taken the initiative to elect women as presidents and wondered why after 50 years, Ghana should not be able to have a female vice-president so that presidency would be seen as the exclusive right of men.
Asked whether the affirmative action initiative was not working enough to enable women to climb higher the political ladder, she replied in the negative but was quick to add that “2008 should be the year to implement a time-bound affirmative action initiative to enable women to attain higher positions to ensure equitable positioning in higher offices.”
“We constitute 51 percent of the population and well educated like our male counterparts but lack of time bound affirmative action initiative is stalling our growth and occupation of higher political positions in
Mrs. Ochlich pointed out that women also had the power to vote men in and out of power since they outnumbered them, arguing that if given the chance, women could persuade men to take right decisions in their interest.
In answer to whether women as assembly members, district chief executives, and minister were not enough, she disagreed and indicated that women had contributed enough to the development of the nation and deserve to be nominated to the position of vie-president of the country.
Women need more representation on Peace Councils
Mr. Kofi Annan, a former United Nations Secretary General, was quoted to have said that “In war torn societies, women often keep societies going. They maintain the social fabric. They replace dislocated social services and tend the sick and the wounded. As a result women are often the prime advocates of peace. We must ensure that women are enabled to play a full part in peace negotiations, in peace processes, in peace missions.”
Women constitute more than 50 per cent of
Some people even argue that women are natural peacemakers due to their nurturing instincts. This is however debatable, and there are examples, stories of women who were as brutal as men in chopping of limbs during the Sierra Leonean civil war. Both men and women have capacities for peace and violence, so women must be equal participants, and be enabled to do so when it comes to peace building, conflict transformation and post-violence reconstruction initiatives.
The United Nations affirms this need in October 200 through the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, War and Security which “urges representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of conflict.”
It is in this light that this writer finds it worrying that women are grossly underrepresented on the National Peace Council, and seven Regional Peace Advisory Councils which have so far been inaugurated as part of the country’s National Architecture for Peace framework, and in fact on many other peace committees and mission in the country.
The National Architecture for Peace in
This is to be done “by promoting co-operative problem solving to conflicts and by institutionalising the processes of response to conflicts to produce outcomes that lead to conflict transformation, social, political and religions reconciliation and transformative dialogues.”
The National Peace Council and the Regional and District Peace Advisory councils are structure being established to promote peace at the various levels, as well as create and facilitate space for dialogue between conflicting parties, as part of the National Architecture for Peace framework.
The framework also makes provision for the appointment of Regional Peace Promotion Officers to facilitate Peace Architecture processes at the regional level. It is the composition of these councils and the appointment of the Peace Promotion officers that give me cause for concern. The compositions and appointments did not give “due regard to gender” as explicitly stated in the Ministry of Interior Policy document on the National Architecture for Peace. So far, the National Peace Council and the Western, Eastern,
The composition is as follows: the National Peace Council comprise eight men and one women, the Upper East Regional Peace Council has 16 men and five women and the Northern Regional Peace Council has 25 men and three women. The rest are Western Regional Peace Council- 13 men, two women, Volta Regional Peace Council – 11 men, one woman, Eastern Regional Peace Council -11 men, three women, Upper West Regional Peace Council -11 men, three women. Brong Ahafo Regional Peace Council – 10 men, one woman and Regional Peace Promotion Officers –seven men, one woman.
It is clear from the above statistics that women are grossly underrepresented on these councils, and this is bound to negatively impact on the activities of the councils and the National Architecture for Peace.
Women have different needs and aspirations from men, both in times of peace and war, and conflict affects them differently. They are therefore better placed to negeotiate and make provisions for their own needs.
When I raised the issue with a male colleague, all he could say was, “who should ensure that women play an equal and full role?” So I simply said officialdom and women themselves.
This was the week of recent violent clashes in Bawku so I added that; those who put together the team lead by the Regional Minister that visited Bawku to assess the security situation are some of the officials responsible for ensuring that women participate actively in such processes. Did anyone who watched the visit on television see a woman on the official team that disembarked from the helicopter in Bawku?
I also said; whoever constituted the National Reconciliation Commission, whoever nominated members of the team working with the Three Eminent Chiefs working to resolve the Dagbon Crisis, whoever constituted the Alavanyo/Nkonya Mediation Committee, whoever appointed the Teleku-Bokazo and Anwia Crisis Fact Findaing Committee, are all responsible for ensuring that women are represented equally on such bodies.
What kind of peace will we be building if we ignore the needs of the majority of the population? When we exclude women or under-represent them? This will amount to building peace for a minority of the population, and that kind of peace will definitely not be durable. More so, we will be denying the peace processes of the unique qualities that women have. Surely, it is not for nothing that our elder symbolically take a break to go and consult the proverbial ‘old lady’ when the going gets tough during serious consultation and decision-making forums in Akan and Ga communities. It is in the acknowledgement of the wisdom of the old lady and by inference women that they do so. Women working shoulder to shoulder with men can enrich structures and processes of the National Architecture for Peace.
In view of UNSCR 1325 and the many good reasons why women should be full and equal participants in all peace building and conflict transformation processes, the composition of the National, Regional and District Peace Councils should be reviewed by the Ministry of Interior and the Councils themselves to ensure that women are fully integrated at all levels of the National Architecture for Peace.
To quote Judy El Bushra, a consultant on gender and armed conflict, “While UNSCR 1325 unlocks the door for women, they themselves will have to push it open.”
While calling on the government and other stakeholders to ensure the mainstreaming of gender in the National Architecture for Peace and other peace processes, women themselves have a responsibility to acquire knowledge and build their capacities. This will enable them take up the challenge and take their rightful place, equally as men on negotiation tables, in mediation and at policy level to contribute their quota towards durable peace for our country in particular and for the world in general.
The writer is a Peace and Gender Advocate and President of Mothers for Active Non-Violence.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Market women assured of government’s support
The Ghanaian Times,
Kwadwo Affram-Asiedu, Eastern Regional Ministers, has pledged the government’s support for market women in the
Mr. Afram- Asiedu gave this assurance here on Monday when he in the company of the Municipal Chief Executive, Nana Kwesi Adjei-Boateng and other officials of the assembly including the various market queens, visited stalls and sheds at the Central and Juaben Serwa markets to interact with them.
Activities at the market almost came to a halt as some of the women, who were happy by the visit of them, hugged and spread their cover cloths on the ground for the Minister to walk on. They expressed gratitude saying, it was the first time a regional minister has visited and interacted with them in the market and urged him to use his office to speed up renovation of the market.
Nana Adjei-Boateng in response to their request said the assembly was planning to put up a new market complex with a modern car park to ease congestion in the municipality. He told them that the leaking roofs of their stores would be repaired and explained that it would not be feasible to expand the market since that would compound the congestion in town.
Nana Adjei-Boateng advised the women to form co-operatives to form so that they could access the micro-finance and small loans to expand their businesses. –GNA