Thursday, March 20, 2008

Let’s involve Women in Conflict resolution-Attafuah

Let’s involve Women in Conflict resolution-Attafuah

Daily Graphic, Thursday, March 20, 2008. Page 17 (Women’s World)

Rebecca Quaicoe Duho

The Executive Director of the Justice and Human Rights Institute, Dr. Ken Attafuah, has stated that the social role of women as good negotiators in times of conflicts has been undermined through the negative effects of some cultural and traditional practices. He said in some communities in Ghana, the views of women a re treated with contempt when issues pertaining to negotiations, conflict resolutions and mediation are being discussed, just because they are female.

According to him since women suffer the most when they are conflicts such as tribal or civil wars, involving them in the negotiations for peace, most often helps to arrive at a lasting solution to such crises.

Dr. Attafuah, who made the statement at a day’s seminar to mark this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) in Accra, said that amounted to underutilising the potential of women as good negotiators.

The seminar, organised by the Department of Women, which is under the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, brought together women’s groups, some members of the international communities and non-governmental organisations who deliberated on the global theme, “Investing in women and girls.”

He said when women were involved in finding solutions to such problems, they often came with compromising positions that suited both parties better.

Dr. Attafuah, who was speaking on the topic, “Investing in protecting the rights of women and girls in Ghana is investing in development,” said women were better created to mediate in conflicts and, therefore, should be made to take centre stage in peace-making efforts.

He said although gender equality had been identified as an essential tool for development in a nation, 64 per cent of the world’s illiterate population had been identified to be women and that, according to him, was a negative factor for the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Dr. Attafuah, who is also the former Executive Secretary of the Commission for Human Rights and Justice (CHRAJ), said issues of gender equality must be factored into the nation’s development framework to ensure that it benefited women and girls.

He advised parents not to exploit their daughters for financial gains and said that led to the betrothal of girl below 18 to older men thereby making such girls suffer mental and psychological trauma.

An International Gender Consultant, Ms Jane Kwawu, spoke on the topic, “Investing in eliminating inequalities faced by women and girls, a pathway to Ghana’s development. The role of the community, government, private sector and development partners.” She said the issues was not just about investing in women and girls but also providing the investment at the right time.

She said the most important aspect of investing in women and girls was making finance available to educated the girl-child, and added that this would mean making a conscious investment in girls for them to become women of substance to contribute to the development of the nation’s economy.

The Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs, Hajia Alima Mahama, said investing in women and girls had a multiplying effect for a nation’s development, stressing that government would continue to support efforts that promote both the economic and social emancipation of women and girls, through the provision of facilities, such as micro-credit finance and the promotion of health and girl-child education.

A member of the Committee of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Mrs Dorcas Coker-Appiah, who also took the participants through “Investing in strengthening gender management systems in Ghana for development,” said there was need for a national gender policy document that would clearly spell out how to address gender inequalities in the country. She said for that to happen, MOWAC should be put in a position where it would be able to coordinate the activities of other ministries, departments and agencies to ensure that they mainstream gender in all their activities.

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