Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What is Women's Empowerment?

Through the various projects, the Pathways of Women's Empowerment have been learning about women's empowerment in different contexts and how they translate into women's everyday lives, policy interactions among others.

Below are videos interviews of some the researchers of the West Africa hub talking about what they understand by women's empowerment and what has come up in their research work in relation to women's empowerment.

Takyiwaa Manuh

Akosua Adomako Ampofo

Dzodzi Tsikata

Awo Asiedu

Nana Akua Anyidoho

Akosua Darkwah

What is your own understanding of women's empowerment? What experiences, observations or research has informed your definition of women's empowerment?

Do share your thoughts,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Women suffer from forced eviction

Women suffer from forced eviction
The Ghanaian Times; Tuesday, June 15, 2010; Page 22 (Regional News)
No author indicated

A human right advocate on Women and Housing for Africa has painted a pathetic picture of how women and children suffer force eviction either by individual landlords, groups and government.

“Women spend their time in slums, work, care for children and domestic chore; yet they are more affected by poor conditions and threats of evictions,” Ms Agnes Kabajuni, said at a national training workshop for media practitioners on the effective use of the media to promote housing and land rights of women in Ghana.

It was organized by the Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction (COHRE) in partnership with Women, Media and Change (WOMEC), an NGO.

About 40 participants drawn from the print and electronic media attended the workshop.

Ms Kabajuni expressed concern about how women struggles to own a house or land property since most inheritances were owned by men who were either husbands, uncles or brother and did not have anywhere to go when forcibly evicted.

She said women constituted most of the slum dwellers but were inadequately house globally.

Ms Kabajuni noted that most African women found on the streets in rural areas were widows who had been thrown out of their husbands’ houses by either a landlord because the women could not afford the rent or by relatives of the husband who thought it was illegal for women to own houses.

She envisaged equal ownership, access and control of housing between men and women across the globe for people to live in peace, security and dignity, adding, “Housing is a right for everyone, everywhere.”

Ms Sylvia Noagbesenu, a COHRE officer indicated that all persons who undertake evictions were to be properly identified and evictions should not be undertaken particularly during bad weather or at night.

She said women experience rape, sexual assault before, during, after forced eviction, battering with poor living conditions.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

EC’s package for women

EC’s package for women
Daily Graphic, Thursday, 20th May, 2010: Back Page
Daniel Nkrumah

The Electoral Commission (EC) has announced a package to encourage more women to contest in the upcoming district level elections schedule for October 26, this year.

The Women’s Candidates Support Package is set to be introduced, with financia support from the European Union, and it will include training workshops to be attended solely by female candidates.

A Commissioner of the EC, Mrs. Pauline Adobea Dadzawa, disclosed this at a press conference in Accra yesterday.

The press conference, which was on the theme, “The 2010 District Level Election, What is in it for women in Ghana,” was organized by Abantu for Development, Women in Broadcasting and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

She indicated that the package was in recognition of the peculiar challenged women faced. “We at the commission believe that it is not enough to tell women that they are free to avail themselves to be voted for. We also believe that if the odds are weighed heavily against them, accomplishing their goals will be elusive,” she said.

She added that the EC believed that full participation of women in the electoral process was key to the growth of democracy.

“it is our fervent hope that even as we support women in our areas of operation, other methods such as quota representation, may be applied to bridge the gap between numbers of men and women in the political arena,” she added.

She advised women candidates to resist the temptation of being discouraged or confused with provocative remarks and questions and urged them to rather maintain their focus and speak on the issues.

Mrs. Dadzawa stated that the EC would deepen it commitment to encourage women to participate in the forthcoming elections.

She said that this was in line with its policy of gender mainstreaming, a conscious effort would be made, where possible, to give priority to the recruitment of women as temporary poll workers. She said the temporary toll workers to be employed for the district elections included returning officers, presiding officers, coordinating presiding officers and polling assistants.

The Deputy Chairman in charge of Programmed at the National Commission of Civic Education (NCCE), Mr Baron Y. Amoafo, stated that in 2005, with the support of the Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund (DGTTF), the NCCE, the EC and the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs undertook intensive leadership training programmed for potential women candidates for the 2006 district level elections.

He added that in order to ensure a sustainable plan for effective women’s participation in governance, the NCCE, through its civic education clubs in senior secondary schools (SHSs), also undertook an intensive tour of selected SHSs throughout the country to whip up enthusiasm among young female students to be interested in taking up leadership positions in the near future.

He indicated that the NCCE had already captured in its plan for the public education on the 2010 district level elections programmes to empower women to participate actively in the elections.

He said it would also hold a capacity-building programme for it staff to cover issues on gender inequality and a number of programmes to enhance women’s participation in the upcoming district level elections.

The Resident Director of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Daniela Kuzu, noted that the fact that Ghana had signed the UN Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the establishment a Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs was an indication that the country was taking the issues of gender equality seriously.

She, however, stated that the country’s performance in terms of gender equality needed to be improved significantly. “To take the national elections of 2004 and 2008 as an example, it is of concern that in 2004 only 10.8 percent of the seats in parliament were taken by women. In 2008, it was even reduced to 7.89 per cent,” she stated.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

MOWAC to re-position itself: Towards Beijing Platform for Action

MOWAC to re-position itself: Towards Beijing Platform for Action
Daily Graphic; Tuesday, May 11, 2010; Page 11 (Gender and Children)
Rebecca Quaico-Duho

The Ministry of women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC) is taking steps to re-position itself to help accelerate Ghana’s progress made in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA).

According to the sector minister, Mrs. Juliana Azumah-Mensah, Ghana organised a side event which is on the theme, “Beyond commitment to responsive institutional structures,” at the just ended meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held in New York.

She said participants had the opportunity to share Ghana’s perspective and experiences on the evolution of the national women’s machinery and how it plans to promote gender equality through re-engineering the ministry and involving women at the grass-roots level.

She was speaking at a forum organised in Accra by MOWAC in collaboration with the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and supported by the United Nations Systems, during which a statistical compendium on women and men were launched.

Mrs. Azumah-Mensah who convened the meeting to brief the public on the outcome of the CSW meeting at a forum in Accra, said a lot of programmes and policies, spearheaded by MOWAC and other ministries such as the Ministry of Health (MOH), were commended as having contributed to the empowering of women socially, economically and politically.

This year’s CSW meeting also coincided with the fifteenth-years review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and its contribution to the achievements of the MDGs.

Programmes such as the issuances of policy directive to public sector agencies to roll out gender responsive budgets across ministries, departments, and agencies, as well as the ministry’s coordination with 16 key sectors such as the Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Education were hailed as a good practice.

She also said MOWAC’s central management roles and the elevation of the ministry to Cabinet status were seen as an outstanding achievement. Other participants expressed interest in selling the idea to their countries.

Other achievements such as the enactment of the Domestic Violence and human Trafficking Acts, criminalization of sexual offences and the passage of laws on women’s rights in marriage and divorce, social protection policies targeting poor women, the National Health Insurance Scheme, free school uniforms for school children and the Health Service Act, which ensured free maternal care to help in addressing the country’s high maternal mortality, and the appointment of women into key positions were all commended.

She said the Commission wrapped up the 54th session by adopting several resolutions which were key to women’s empowerment and they were issues on women’s economic empowerment, women and girl child and HIC and AIDS, protecting women and girls form harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), elimination of maternal mortality and a decision to consolidate four existing offices working in issues related to gender under the United Nations into a composite gender entity.

The Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA), Mr. Joseph S. Abbey, a guest speaker who spoke on ‘the importance of gender statistics for development,’ underscored the importance of having more women in decision-making positions so that they would speak for women.

He said the country would be wasting a lot of resources, if the potential of women, who formed the majority of the country’s population, was not tapped, saying, “Investment made in women should be utilised to ensure maximum returns.”

He said statistics over the years did not quantify the work of women, especially in domestic settings, and pointed out that it made it difficult to appreciate the input of women in national development.

Mr. Abbey said it was essential that the country gathered separate data for men and women so that the country would know the needs of boys and girl and men and women. This, according to him, would enable the government to build appropriate infrastructure such as clinics and school and that the gender dimensions of all these had not been focused on in the country.

The Chief Director of MWAC, Ms Nancy Dzah, in a welcoming address said as institutions and organisations promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country, it was important that, “we avail ourselves of the global, regional and national trends of achievements and challenges confronting us in our zeal to achieve the MDG3, which is: Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.”

An international gender consultant and chairperson of the programme, Mrs Jane Amavi Kwaku, said Ghana had become a flagship of achieving results in many areas and it could not afford to fail in the empowerment of women.

Representatives of Parliament, MDAs, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, who were at the CSW meeting in New York, gave their impression about the way forward for MOWAC.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

GSS develop handbook on gender statistics

GSS develop handbook on gender statistics
Daily Graphic, Thursday, 6th May, 2010: Page 11; (Gender and Children)
Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho

The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has developed a handbook on gender statistics which reflects the relative levels and differentials between women and men, and girls and boys in terms of education, health, politics, and access to credits among others.

The statistical compendium on women and men is a collection of concise, but detailed gender-sensitive indicators, which will help the formulation of policies in the country.

The Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs, Mrs. Juliana Azumah-Mensah, whop launched the handbook at a programme in Accra, said the collection of sex deaggregated data was vital to women’s development in the country.

She said such data was essential to enable the country to track the progress made so far in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The minister said such data was also important to ministries, departments and agencies, since it would help them implement the gender budgeting strategy, which had been introduced by the government effectively.

Giving some highlights on the book, the minister said it dealt with household leadership and divorce, school enrollment for males and females at various levels of education, illiteracy among men and women and power and influence.

She said the statistical compendium showed that 23 per cent of female-headed household were divorced women and 51 per cent of women in the country were illiterates.

On the issue of power and influence, she said the result were nothing to write home about, and that a huge gap still existed between men and women in the decision-making process, adding that there was the need to encourage more women into politics.

She, therefore, advised women who were interested in politics to participate in active politics at the various levels, to get more women in the country’s decision-making process.

A Chief Statistician at the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), Mr. Baah Wadieh, who made a presentation on, “The status of the provision of gender statistics,” said developing gender statistics required that the statistical processes should be applied diligently when acquiring the data.

He said such gender-sensitive data should not be merely indicators which had been compiled and presented by sex, although it was a fundamental requirement, but should also signal gender-related changes in a condition or phenomenon over time, shed light on social processes and interventions and how these affect women and men and their relationship with one another.

He said gender statistics were one of the basic requirements of the Beijing Declaration, which calls on national, regional and international statistical institutions to “ensure that statistics related to individuals are collected, compiled, analysed and presented by sex, and age, and reflect problems, issues and questions related to women and men in society.”

The Government Statistician, Dr. Grace Bediako, said the statistical compendium would help the country gain insight into how far it had advanced, saying that, “we need to be able to assess what gains we have made” and also identify where there were problems. She said the handbook would help the country learn from its successes in terms of gender equality, empowerment and equity, and also bring out the disappointing results so that they could be dealt with.

Dr. Bediako said nationally and globally, it was difficult to see the achievements on the field, and that many organisations found it necessary to have ‘gender’ as a component of their programmes, instead of mainstreaming it into all facets of public and private life, decision-making and prorammes.

She bemoaned the fact that two-and-a-half decades after the adoption of the MDGs, with MDG 3 calling for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, “we still have to remind policy makers that gender equality is a rights issue like poverty and survival.”

She said as a country, “we have an opportunity with the upcoming population and housing census to improve our database for the MDGs,” and that many of the questions for the census would provide the basis for computing the indicators required.

Dr. Bediako, however, said the country still needed to explore all potential sources, censuses, samples surveys and administrative records to provide the complete picture.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Women are more sensitive to national issues- NCCE director

Women are more sensitive to national issues- NCCE director
The Ghanaian Times; Wednesday, May 5th, 2010; (Regional Diary)
Samuel Opare Lartey

Ghana would have been like heaven if many women had given themselves to decision making and participated fully in the decentralisation programme of the nation.

This is because women are very sensitive and difficult to convince to do things which would go against them in the future.

The Eastern Regional Director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Mr. Eric Bortey, said at the launch of the 10th Annual Eastern Regional Constitutional Week at Koforidua. It had the theme, “Enhancing constitutionalism through effective citizen participation for good governance.”

Giving an example of the few women who are now in high positions in the country, he asked, “Who has heard anything wrong with any of them?” “Which of them has been mentioned as causing financial loss to the state?” he added.

He said that there had been many women who had and are now occupying strategic positions in the country since the inception of the 1992 constitution without any problems.

Mr. Bortey encouraged women to forget about existing prejudices, any fears and believe that they had the support, abilities to actively participate in the governance of the nation.

Tracing the history of the constitution from the first republic, he said, most of the citizenry do not know the constitution and they supported a particular candidate and voted for him or her.

The constitution is about the welfare of the citizenry, therefore, they should always use the power and enthusiasm in supporting their candidates to demand their rights for good roads, shelter, health, education and water among others. Mr. Bortey explained.

He urged Ghanaians to study the constitution as a document which sets the framework within which laws, regulations and rules are made to govern the private and public lives of citizens. Therefore, Mr. Bortey appealed to Ghanaians to make every effort to know the contents of the constitution to enable them to know, exercise their basic rights and perform their civic responsibilities.

The Acting Eastern Regional Director of CHRAJ, Mr. Dominic C. Hammond, who launched the programme, spoke on, “Can our present constitutional framework accelerate the growth and sustenance of democracy and good governance in Ghana?”

He said the 1992 Constitution is the longest existing constitution the country had ever had and has revealed that the spirit of liberty, oneness, rule of law and sovereignty resides with the people.

He said Ghana had had a decade of peaceful and acceptable constitutional rule and had change political leaders through the ballot box in a free and fair manner. “Ghana’s level of democracy and good governance has made her a star among other African countries,” he said.

Mr. Hammond said that the 1992 Constitution had guaranteed the independence of the, Electoral Commission, mandated NCCE to conducted civic education and CHRAJ to promote, protect and enforce fundamental human rights and freedom and administrative justice for all persons in Ghana.

He appealed for resources for institutions to function effectively because their presence had placed Ghana in the lead of other African countries in terms of practicing democracy and good governance.

The programme was chaired by Okotwasuo Kantamto Oworae II, vice president of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gender Activists assist women aspirants

Gender Activists assist women aspirants
Daily Graphic, Tuesday, 4th May, 2010: Page 11; (Gender and Children)
Nurudeen Salifu, Tamale.

Gender rights activists have launched a project designed to improve women’s participation in the forthcoming district assembly elections in the Upper West Region.

Dubbed, “The All Political Rights Project,” the project will provide the requisite resources for women aspirants to participate in the 2010 district assembly elections and assist them to campaign effectively and win elections.

It will also build the capacities of female aspirants and put together well-planned campaign strategies that will encourage the electorate to vote for women during the elections.

Speaking at the launch of the project, the Upper West Regional Director of Women and member of the Women’s Manifesto Coalition, Mrs. Kate Bob Millar, underscored the need to give legal backing to the affirmative action policy aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in political representation both at the local and national levels.

She said “if there was a national lack backing these directives and commitments, there would be no way of escaping their implementation.” She added that an affirmative action policy backed by the law, was therefore, the best option, to improve women’s representation in governance since it would make it mandatory for state authorities to give fair representation to women as a matter of law, not out of sympathy.

Some gender advocates at the programme argued that the issuance of directives and commitments regarding the appointment of women to political posts had not yield much result, since there was no legal framework to enforce such directives.

They noted that although various political administrations had committed themselves to allocate a proportion of positions to women these pledges had not been fulfilled. They also noted that these administrations had equally given directives to the effect that 30 or 50 per cent of government appointees to district assemblies should be women, but these had also not been adhered to.

The Foundation for Female Photojournalists (FFP), together with the Women’s Manifesto Coalition is spearheading the project, with support from the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS).

Six regions have been selected to benefit from the programme. They are Northern, Upper West, Upper East, Greater Accra, Volta and Central regions.

Launching the project, the Northern Regional Minister, Mr. Moses Bukari Mabengba, noted that the government was committed to creating an enabling environment for women to develop their potential and getting fair representation in governance.

He, however, observed that the bane to women’s participation in politics was lack of education, which he noted had created a situation where many women could not participate in decision making in some areas.

The minister, therefore, called for a more aggressive pursuit of girl-child education so as to produce qualified women to participate in decision making.

The Programme Officer of the FFP, Ms Esenam Tilly Adu-Gyamfi, told the Daily Graphic that the objective of the project was to address some challenges that confront women in the 2006 district assembly elections.

These challenges, she noted, had been identified in a review conducted by the Women’s Manifesto Coalition and these included cultural barriers, gender discrimination and resource constraints.

“The project would, therefore, assist the women aspirants to acquire passport photographs for the production of posters and handbills to sell their messages to their constituents,” Ms Adu-Gymafi said.

She appealed for support from other organisations and institutions to facilitate the implementation of the project and ultimately improve women representation in governance.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

‘Let’s support women in local government’

‘Let’s support women in local government’
Daily Graphic; Thursday, April 22, 2010; Page 11 (Gender & Children)
Salome Donkor

The role of women in politics and public office is one of the current burning governance issues because of the perceived and acknowledged potential and contribution of women to governance processes.

Gender and policy advocacy organisations recognize that improving the lives of women and other members of society require a balanced gender representation in government structures by promoting greater responsiveness to women in politics and decision-making,

For some women who want to enter national politics, governance at the various levels, namely by the local or district, regional and national, is crucial to them, since it provides them with good training grounds to improve their chances of being elected to political office to promote gender-balance in decision-making at all levels.

The involvement of more women in politics and decision-making is expected to meet their interests and basic needs and enable them continue to influence policies from a gender perspective and addressing inequalities and injustices in social relationships.

The local government system has therefore become good grounds for some women, who want to enter into national politics. But the most difficult challenge that confront most women intending to enter into local government, is lack of funds.

The support women in the 2006 District Assembly elections, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC), launched the “Women in Local Government Fund” to assist women aspirants.

According to the Public Relations Officer of MOWAC, Mrs. Adiza Ofori-Adu, each of the 1, 772 women who contested the 2006 District Assembly elections, received GH¢20.00 for their campaign activities.

She said the Department of Women in the various regions have been task to work in collaboration with the district assemblies and identify 20 women from each district to support them to take part in the forthcoming district assembly elections.

Speaking at a day’s review meeting on “Challenges and Prospects of Women in Decision-Making Positions,” in Koforidua recently, the Eastern Regional Director of the Department of Women, Ms Jane Kwapong, re-emphasised the need for the private sector, corporate bodies and related organizations and individuals to financially support the “Women in Local Government Fund.”

She said society should see gender equality as a tool for sustainable development and called for support and encouragement by both men and women to ensure that more women were elected in the forthcoming district assembly elections.

Participants were drawn from civil society organisations , women’s groups, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Gender Desk Officers and assembly women.

She urged political parties to promote equal rights and opportunities for women and men to engage in political activities and take further steps to elect women in their “safe constituencies” to contest parliamentary elections increase the number of women in parliament.

She said since women’s reproductive roles tended to militate against their participation in politics and other decision-making processes, there was need to encourage the sharing of household responsibilities to enable more women to participate in public life.

The Member of Parliament for New Jauben South, Madam Beatrice B. Boateng, who is also an elected assembly member of the New Jauben Municipal Assembly, advised women to rise above reproach in the face of all changes and prove their worth, stressing that some women had been able to make it, despite the challenges.

She mentioned poverty as a major challenge that prevented women from aspiring to greater heights and pointed out that the problems could be overcome with determination, perseverance, hard work and optimism.

Mr. Rex Baah Antiri of Ghana Education Service (GES) appealed to the government to create an enabling environment that would strengthen women to be part of decision-making, especially at higher levels.

He called for sustained efforts to deal with all forms of violence against women and repressive cultural practices against women to enable them contribute their quota to development.

Participants suggested that efforts should be intensified to address the issues of gender stereotyping, as well as speed up the socialization process and gender equality, adding that the empowerment of women should not be limited to those in towns and cities, but extended to rural women as well.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mainstreaming Climate Change, Water Security and Gender

Mainstreaming Climate Change, Water Security and Gender
Daily Graphic; Monday, April 19, 2010; Page 26 (Features)
Delali B. Dovie

The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2008 Technical Paper VI on climate change and water, proposes a focus on water security as a basis for sound early adaptation strategy. The report highlights the importance of using water security in delivering immediate adaptation benefits to vulnerable and undeserved populations, towards advancing the Millennium Development Goals, while strengthening adaptative systems and capacity for managing climate risk factors. It is now known that warmer temperatures, and altered patterns of precipitation and runoff, will increasingly compromise the effective management of water resources and water supplies that could technically cripple water security, food systems and natural resources.

This is because water resources remain the major central tendency and hence crosscutting resource of the effects and impacts of climate change, vulnerability and adaptation. Similarly, it is expected that the vulnerability of water resources and challenges of water insecurity will impact society through gender relations, culturally, socio-politically economically and in decision making. Imbalances in gendered responses to impacts in health, hygiene and sanitation sectors as well as gendered conflicts and violence, will be experienced with complementary adaptative strategies.

These attributes have been found to largely charaterise the climate change and variability impacts status of the three northern regions of Ghana.

Water Security
Water security has been defined as, “the reliable availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks.” Water security is not simply about the availability of water and accompanying declining supplies, but also about issues of access, use, ad safety. Fundamental human and national sovereignty rights characterize the access to water and imping equity and affordability where gendered dimensions are of critical importance.

Thus, the concept of water security imbibes social and political decision making on use in the context of competing demands. Therefore the issues of availability in the form of surface or ground water are physically and technically imposed as they become the immediate entry point, or exposure to climate change stressors.

The problems of gender often arise on access and use, determined mainly by political, social and economic factors. The impacts of climate change and variability will in no doubt play a major roles in changing physical and political economy facets of water resources and water.

Therefore, water policy needs to be more proactive and adaptable to social concerns of who has access and to what extent, and also who makes the decision. This means that with the changing face of the climate and hence water resources and water (demand and supply). Water policy must be targeted to avoid marginalization of certain vulnerable groups (e.g. women).

Impacts and Gender
It has been established that although the impacts of climate change and variability through water stress and insecurity will impact both gender, women will bear the most brunt. This is because research ash shown that historically, women have evolve their own livelihood strategies and coping mechanisms around water, thus establishing a cultural tie that if disrupted, will lead to devastating outcomes.

Additionally, the differential work of women, limited control and lack of tenure over production and diminished access to common coping mechanisms, as well as restricted mobility, amplify the impact of disasters for them.

Yet those deficiencies under normal conditions would have been expected to complement the role of their male counterparts. Therefore the environmental change science community on human dimensions foresees a scenario whereby once women are supported to develop their resilience in relation to climate change induced water insecurity, men and the rest of society will be better adapted.

However, policy and development interventions to make this happen will depend on information from the scientific community for which Gender Analysis or Gender Profiling have been used in recent times. Through such tools, compilation on some impacts on women have been revealed as:

1. Ensuing food insecurity and especially unavailability influences food consumption patterns that are often gender differentiated, favouring men and allowing more access than women.
2. In farming communities, the loss of assets and entitlements of women are a common phenomenon as they often failed to bounce back due to limited livelihood options.
3. In water-stressed and drought-prone areas, women tend to allocate more effort to domestic water collection as they will usually do and in the process, fail to balance the times and energy available for productive work, leading to the loss of income and thus often resulting in poverty.
4. Flood is one important aspect of climate change that has been established to increase the workload of women due to recovering and rescuing of assets, intense cleaning, resources mobilisation and maintenance in addition to the house chores. When this happens, it often leads to reduced opportunities available for productive work and at times women labourers may lose sources of paid work due to flooded fields.
5. Whilst mass migration as a result of climate change impacts (e.g. droughts) have been downplayed, a male out-migration puts added burden on women to mage assets including land whilst female out-migration exposes women to other forms of risk.
6. Increased incidence of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) related diseases have been reported among women during extended flood periods, especially the elderly as they eat less and drink less to limit visitations to public latrines due to deteriorated sanitation caused by water influx.
7. Extended draught years have also been found to far impact on school enrolment or retention rates of girls than boys as several hours are spent daily in search od water and food.

The enhancement of the adaptative capacity of vulnerable people, promotion of early adaptation action and laying the foundation for long-term investment infrastructure that respond to water insecurity within social contexts are important foe water security. These are expected to increase the resilience to climate change thus forming the basis for adaptation, planning and mainstreaming of other sectors’ policies in the water sector. It has been argued that among the shortcomings of development programmes on climate change adaptation are issues of gender and poverty, often captured as an afterthought or as seperate. However, their inclusion at project conception will permit integration in the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.

It is important that programmes in adaptation take in consideration the differing needs of men and women and associated socio-cultural realities at all phases for effectiveness and sustainability. In addition, because women’s rights face violation in disaster processes, the assessments of differential and heterogeneous vulnerabilities across diverse demographic categories will be crucial.

In conclusion, the contextualisation of climate change within everyday interfacing geographies of vulnerability, ascertains the role of pre-existing, coupled human-environment systems of physical and social space that serve as basis for mainstreaming in policy formulation for adaptation.

Friday, April 9, 2010

‘Respect rights of househelps’

‘Respect rights of househelps’
The Ghanaian Times; Friday, April 9, 2010; Page 23; (Regional Diary)
Collins Boateng

The Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA), a non-governmental organisation that seeks to promote human rights of women in Ghana and in Africa, last week held a consultative seminar on the need to monitor domestic workers in homes.

The Coordinator of LAWA, Mrs. Babara Ayesu, said there is the need for parents and guardians to understand the risk involved in doing domestic work, stressing that domestic workers sometimes are maltreated by their employer, which results in them developing psychological trauma.

She said the country has laws that regulate the right of its citizens, domestic workers are not beneficiaries of such laws, adding that there is need for government and other agencies to make domestic work professional to enable practitioners of the work to enjoy benefits like any other worker.

“The attention of domestic workers is receiving global concern and their maltreatment is regarded as an infringement on their human rights that would soon be redressed internationally,” she stressed.

Mrs. Ayesu said Ghana’s labour law does not check pain that the domestic worker goes through, adding that LAWA would make sure the laws checks the rights of domestic workers to enhance the individual rights in the country.

She said Ghana’s participation in promotion human rights globally has helped the country to partner with other countries like Uganda, Tanzania and other international bodies to address the problem of violation of women’s human rights.

She stated that this year, Ghana would collaborate with the world to redress domestic violence, equitable marital property at divorce and the workplace to enhance women’s freedom globally.

Speaking at the seminar, Ms Adwoa Sakyi, Project Coordinator for the International Union of Food, Agriculture, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and allied workers associations said, there is need for all domestic workers to have right to free themselves from sexual harassment and violence in the workplace, stressing that domestic workers should report all persons who intrude on their rights to the district labour officers for appropriate sanctions.

She said, all domestic workers have the right to form or join trade unions and enjoy collective bargaining, adding that any domestic worker whose right is infringed upon should seek the authorities for redress.

Mrs. Sakyi said the domestic worker has the right to leave just as any government worker, and must be paid accordingly.

She said it is times the country treat domestic workers as professionals because without them there would chaos at their homes and that if we respect and treat them as such, it would help curb poverty and economical downtrends that the country is encountering now.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Women Urged to Participate actively in Governance

Women Urged to Participate actively in Governance
The Ghanaian Times; Friday, March 19, 2010; Page 23
Samuel Opare

The Eastern Regional Director of the NCCE, Mar Eric Bortey, has said that the nature of political campaigns in the country have not helped women to participate actively in the governance of the country since independence. “At certain times too”, he explained, “the language used on certain platforms during campaigns prevent or discourage women to get involved in politics.” Mr. Bortey said this at a two day empowerment workshop for women in all the electoral areas in the Suhum Kraboa Coaltar District (SKCD) at Suhum.

It was organized by the NCCE in collaboration with the World Vision International under the theme “Effective participation of women in decision making at the district assemblies and local level.”
Wrongly too, he said “most people think that any woman who openly joins and participate in political activities is a harlot, witch, man-woman or an iron lady.”

Much has not been achieved in the nation’s decentralization and political agenda since 1988 because of lack of women participation in the local government system, “the NCCE Regional Director stated.

Mr. Bortey therefore challenged women in the country to come out of their shells and take up their place in the nation’s democratic system.

“Do not allow Accra alone to be the seat of government, irrespective of your party affiliation, let us all join hands to move Ghana democracy forward,” he said, pointing out that “women are in the majority but when it comes to decision and participation in the local governance of the nation, they are in the minority.”

Women’s failures in decision making, Mr Bortey said was due to their attitudes toward themselves, societal and family influence, educational background, defeating attitude, traditional/cultural influence and the nature of the political campaign in the country.

Above all he observed that “Women have accepted from time past that politics is for men.” Mr. Bortey appealed to the women to get involved in the local government of the nation because they have a lot to offer to the development of the nation through their participation in decision-making at the local levels. He taught the women how to write manifestos and how to speak in public and advised them to present themselves to be voted for the area, Town, Zonal, Urban and any position in the Local Council elections. “This is where you can learn and build your confidence to attain your vision in Ghana’s political arena” said the NCCE Director.

The Acting District Director of NCCE, Mr. Cephas Kofi Agboada said that the district assembly system is the most competent structure in Ghana because that is the bedrock of the nation and therefore the work of any assembly woman is very important.

He explained that decision-making is a very important process in which women would need to be actively involved if their needs and concerns are to be adequately met.

He said the nation’s district assemblies would be very effective, strong, richer and democratic if the people stop the discrimination but encourage women to get involved in the activities of local government. The programme was chaired by the SKCD Director of CHRAJ, Mrs. Anyeley Ayeng Cole and supported by the queen mother of Suhum, Nana Yaa Sakyibea.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Women in Local Governance Fund coming back

Women in Local Governance Fund coming back
The Ghanaian Times,Wednesday, March 17, 2010; Page 16
Anita Nyarko

The Women in Local governance Fund, now defunct, will be re-launched to support women contesting in local government elections that would be held in September this year.

Mrs. Juliana Azumah-Mensah, Minister for Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC), said this at the opening of the National Gender Forum 2010 in Accra yesterday.

The two-day forum which ends today seeks to promote gender mainstreaming in pro-poor policy formulation and advocacy.

It also aims at creating a platform to engage policy makers, civil society organisations, development practitioners, gender experts and development partners in the programme.

The programme, organized by the Ghana Research and Advocacy Programme is on the theme, “Civic engagement for gender equality and good governance in Ghana: Sharing experience, contesting spaces, renewing commitments.”

She said government realising the need for reinforcement of intervention to support women’s participation in local governance, embarked on programmes and activities that would promote women’s participation in governance.

“The government has incorporated a gender perspective into the national agenda and development priority of the country to promote effective participation of women in governance at all levels of decision making,” she added.

Mrs. Azumah-Mensah said some of the programmes include the organisation of training programmes aimed at building women’s capacities on speech delivery, effective lobbying, advocacy and other leadership skills.

The Minister said the government in its bid to make governance gender responsive has established a national women’s machinery, MOWAC, which is of cabinet status to properly address gender issues and the larger numbers of problems confronting women and children in the country.

She said Ghana’s experience in making governance gender responsive is creating the necessary environment for the protection of women and children’s rights.

The Minister said government has ratified and adopted various international conventions and protocols that promote gender equality, women and children’s right in conformity with the provision of the chapter five of the 1992 Constitution which includes the African chapter on human and people’s rights.

A Senior Development Officer, Corporation of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Garret Pratt, in his address, said Ghana’s journey towards achieving equitable development has witnessed significant interventions in social policies and services such as the Domestic Violence Ac, Spousal Property Rights bill, free maternal and child health policies.

“As Ghana deals with implications of the emerging oil and gas industries, let us work consciously to crystallize and sustain gender equality gains and apply lessons from experience to new issues,” he added.

Gov’t must show commitment to Women’s participation in Politics

Gov’t must show commitment to Women’s participation in Politics
Daily Graphic, Wednesday, 17 March, 2010; Page 16

The management of the Hunger Project-Ghana has called on the government to show commitment to women’s participation in politics by enforcing the 40 per cent representation of women in the district metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).

It said the government should allocate special funds for the training, grooming and campaign activities of women parliamentary candidates.

The call was made in a communiqué issued at the end of a national rural forum for selected men and women programme Animators and Epicenter Representatives on the theme: ‘Equal Opportunities : Progress for all’.

A statement issued and signed by Dr. Nana Agyeman-Mensah, Country Director of the Project, said the forum was held at the Odumase –Wawase Epicenter in the Kwahu West Municipality, to mark this year’s International Women‘s Day, which fell on Monday, March 8.

The Communiqué also called on the government to enforce existing laws that had been instituted to protect women and children such as the Domestic Violence Act, the Intestate Succession Law, The Children’s Act other relevant laws through the training of gender sensitive officers at the MMDAs to spearhead the implementation and monitoring of gender based policies.

It called for the establishment of the special scholarship schemes to benefit brilliant needy girls who will otherwise drop out of school after junior high school.

The Communiqué appealed for sponsorship for girls to enroll in nursing and teacher training colleges to increase the number of women professionals who would also serve as role models for girls in the rural areas.

It stressed the need for the use of participatory sensitization approaches that would bring out the negative effects of gender inequality on the spread of HIV and AIDS.

The statement also called for the reconsideration of the of the health policy on ‘non –delivery of babies ‘ by Traditional Birth Attendants, who were still regardless of the policy, offering valuable child delivery services to poor women in remote rural areas, until such time that there were enough rural health facilities and professionals in those areas. The Communiqué called for the improvement in farm gate access roads in food producing areas to address the transportation and distribution challenges of the nation’s food farmers, 80 per cent of whom were women.

It said efforts should be made to provide special subsidized packages for women farmers to encourage them to, and to recognize those who excel in the field of agriculture at special state events, to inspire other women farmers.

The Communiqué called for increased financial and technical support to women’s groups as well as focused steps to introduce into rural areas, simple technologies for processing vegetables and staple food crops to halt post harvest losses, while creating vital job opportunities.

It called for more support to NGOs which utilized sustainable development strategies that created local leadership opportunities for women as well as build local capacity for self reliant development, through the creation of community based animators in critical areas such as sexual and reproductive health, legal literacy, credit management, functional literacy, agricultural extension, HIV and AIDS education, counseling and referral services which benefited women.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DOVVSU Affirms Commitment to Curb Domestic Violence

DOVVSU Affirms Commitment to Curb Domestic Violence
Daily Graphic; Tuesday, MARCH 16, 2010; Page 11 (Gender and Children)
Salome Donkor

Ghana has achieved gains in various areas, including education and development of national laws, policies and programmes aimed at championing the cause of women.

More and more people now understand that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is not just a goal but the key to sustainable development, economic growth and peace and security.

However, there is the need to pay more attention to the needs of women and children in the country and women advocates, women groups and related agencies unanimously upheld this view as the world commemorated the International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8.

A statement from the Ark Foundation, a gender based non-governmental organization, to celebrate the day, pointed out that although legislation such as the Domestic Violence Act, Person’s with Disability Act, Human Trafficking Act, Labour Act, among others, which have been passed, as well as the Affirmative Action Policy Guideline, policies on health, particularly relating to maternal mortality and AIDS, there is still some work to be done.

Media reports indicate that, while there had been advances over the past years to enhance gender equality and the empowerment of women, with the establishment of Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service to expanded to all regional capitals, violence against women continue to be a problem in Ghana. The national prevalence of one in three women having being physically assaulted by an intimate partner still remains unchanged and statistic from the DOVVSU shows that violence against is still unacceptably high.

In support of the fight against all forms of discrimination against women on the occasion of the celebration of the International Women’s Day, the national secretariat of DOVVSU, on behalf of the Inspector general of Police, has reaffirmed the DOVVSU commitment to protect and promote the welfare of women by preventing, apprehending, and prosecuting abusers of women and children’s rights.

A statement signed by the coordinating Director of the Unit, Chief Superintendent Elizabeth Dassa, said “We celebrate their commitment to improve on the lot of their families, communities an the Ghanaian society at large and also seize this occasion to doff our hats to our dedicated stakeholders who have been consistent in the support of our efforts.’’

The statement said violence against women and gender-based violence were still rife in the society and such cases accounted for three-quarters of the over 95,000 cases so far recorded by the Unit.

It said Ghanaians should remember that violence against women and gender-based violence fragrantly violated the fundamental human rights of women and girls, as they impacted negatively on their survival and development and urged all to resolve to co-operate with the unit or any police station to arrest perpetrators.

Women Farmers Appeal for Support

Women Farmers Appeal for Support
Daily Graphic, Tuesday, 16 March, 2010; (Gender and Children), Page 11
Alhandu Abdul Hamid, Tango

Women are the most predominant force in the Agricultural sector with about 87 per cent involved in food production.

Although Agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy and contributes 80 per cent to total national revenue, women in the sector lack access to and control over productive resources such as land livestock, they also lack access to credit opportunities and these factors contribute to their low standards of living.

Women farmers in the Tallensi/Nabdan District of the Upper East Region, who are facing similar problems, have appealed to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to support them with agricultural extension services.

The farmers who are heads of households in the communities in the district, indicated that the providing them with these services will not only help to sustain their farming activities but will also ensure food security for their households.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic at the forum organized by Action Aid in collaboration with BONATADU, a local non-governmental organization based in the Upper East Region, the secretary of Laamtaaba Women’s group, Madam Veronica Gbandaan said Female –headed-house-holds in the region face a lot of challenges.

She noted that apart from the challenge of getting agricultural extension services, they were also faced with the problem of getting bullock plough and tractor services to prepare their fields.

The officer in charge of Food Right and Climate Change of Action Aid Ghana, Mr. Joseph Degbedzui said action aid and BONATADU share a common vision of eradicating poverty in the country.

He said a world without poverty and injustices would enable people live dignified lives hence their commitment to work with people who were excluded in their communities to achieve their development challenges. He mentioned some of the communities as Kulpeliga, Datoko, Sheaga, Winkogo-Dapore, Numgu and all in the Tallensi /Nabdam District.

An officer from the MOFA in the Tallensi/Nabdam District, Mr. Bernard My-Issah said a desk, had been specifically set up by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to cater for the specific needs of women.

He said MOFA had a Bullock Farm project which provides Bullock farm services as well as seeds to and fertilizer to beneficiaries to cultivate soya beans ,rice, tomato and sorghum ,who will after harvesting ,adding that it was a full cost recovery programme and urged the women to take advantage of the programme to improve their livelihood.

The Tallensi /Nabdam District coordinating Director Mr.Fuseini Alhassan said even though the assembly was faced with financial constraints due to the peculiar nature of the group, it was prepared to offer them free tractor services if they were prepared to fuel the tractors.

He thanked Action Aid Ghana for their continuous support, and added that for the past four years, they have been supporting the District in the area of agriculture, education and health which has seen conditions improving for the people in the District.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Celebrating Women-An Example of a Women Entrepreneur

Celebrating Women-An Example of a Women Entrepreneur
Daily Graphic; Wednesday, March 10, 2010; Page 7
Vicky Wireko

Monday, March 8, was a special to women the world over. It is the day specifically set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Whereas elsewhere the day is celebrated with the exchange of gifts and flowers for women in appreciation of their roles and achievements, in Ghana, no official symbolic celebration in the real sense of recognizing achievements prevails.

However, according to a statement issued by the ministry of women and children affairs MOWAC, activities including a football gala among women’s groups, a cleanup exercise, symposium and exhibition have been lined up. Is the meaning of the day lost to us?

In my own small way, to celebrate the economic achievements of women in our society, l have decided to dedicate this column this week to the generality of the hardworking Ghanaians women that in many ways remains the toast of the society.

Very resourceful and resilient, many have held their families and their countries together in times of hardships .the irony however that is these people who are always on the line in times of conflict, discrimination, sexual violence, poverty, diseases and intimidation.

So as the global celebration caught up with us this year have decided to single out and showcase the entrepreneurial spirit of mother and a wife, Mrs. Awurabena Okra, whose success story in business continues to be a source of inspiration to many. Her resourcefulness has today become a case study for polytechnic students and young entrepreneurs who fall under the umbrella of National Board for Small Scale Industry (NSSSI).

A graduate of the University of Ghana and a postgraduate certificate holder from the University of Cape Coast, Awurabena left classroom teaching in the early eighties to pursue a past time which she had nurtured from childhood.

A risk one may have cautioned her at the time but no, risk taking is the hallmark of a successful entrepreneur .and so without any looking back, she forged on and successfully combined her god-given talent in stitching and a family trait in entrepreneurship (which she picked up from her mother) to create a full blown clothes and textile industry known today as Winglow at East Legon, Accra.

With a humble beginning of one sewing machine in her spare bedroom, and a determination to do something to supplement her family’s budget during those hardship days of the early 1980’s,Winglow has expanded so much that it now has 24 industrial sewing machines among several other machinery needed in the textile industry.

Awurabena has given lifetime occupations to many young men and women who have undergone training at her hands at Winglow Ltd and who are training others to manage their own dressmaking businesses. Currently the company employs 30 people on full-time basis. So how Mrs. Okra has nurtured past time made it to such celebrated heights in the textile and fashion industry?

Winglow started as a small outfit sewing for individuals and later for such big organizations as the Police, Military, private companies and some corporate institutions.

With time, she ventured into production on large scale and exporting finished goods to the US, Europe and some other parts of Africa. Today, the company designs its own materials with the Ghanaian symbols which make them unique and attractive to the export market.

Awurabena's venture into entrepreneurship has paid off well. She has won many local and international awards to her credit. In 2001, she won the International Award for her Quality and Commitment from Business Initiative Directives.

This was followed closely in 2002 by another award for Technology and Quality from Trade Leaders Club International. The awards she has picked up locally include the Mensah Sarbah Hall Alumni Celebrity Personality for 2003, the Ministry of Trade and Industry Bronze Award in 2004 for Entrepreneurship in Fashion and Export in 2005 from Accra Girls Secondary School.

As resourceful as she is, Awurabena has since 1997 participated in Trade Fairs and Exhibitions in countries such as USA, India, Angola, Namibia, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and Liberia. At home, she participated in Fairs organized by the Ghana Trade Fairs Authority, the Association of Ghana Industries AGI), and the Eastern Regional Coordinating Council in Koforidua.

She has bettered herself by attending many international and local training courses both at home and abroad. Through these training sessions, she has been tutored in management and finance, entrepreneurship, small and medium enterprise, export, and machine embroidery.

She has in turn put some of the knowledge acquired from these training sessions to the benefit of young of young entrepreneurs and students from some tertiary institutions through facility visits to the Winglow factory and the provision of mentorship to some. She currently serves as a mentor to for some student members of AISEC at the University of Ghana, Legon.

The example of Winglow Ltd is a case of celebration for the simple reason that it has changed the face of textile manufacturing in our country and contributed to the training of our young ones to be the masters of their own businesses while giving employment to many others. And what better time to highlight this celebration than a time when the world the world is celebrating the achievements of women.

Years back when one heard or spoke about textiles industries, eyes were fixed on those multinational textile companies who dealt in our local designs.

Then later some large-scale local textiles industries came on board. But not anymore. Today, companies like Winglow Clothes and Textiles Ltd are busy in the design and production of quality clothing and embroided fabrics.

These fabrics that are exclusive, with excellent quality and are elegant by all standards manufactured specifically for both the local and exports markets. That has been the achievement of a resourceful Ghanaian woman, Awurabena Okra.

Like many other women working in the quiet and yet contributing in their own small ways to the economic ,social and political dynamics of our society, Monday was a day set aside to celebrate them as role models and clear examples for other women to aspire to their heights.
So on the occasion like this, we should not just be organizing clean exercise, football galas and talk shows. It is the time of the year that role models are played up.

It is the time we celebrate all women in general but give a special place to showcase in particular those women who have contributed to our economic, social and political successes through their own individual and corporate achievements. That should be the focus of the yearly International Day of the Woman. Happy Anniversary to the women of Ghana.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Domestic Violence Victims Support Fund Planned

Domestic Violence Victims Support Fund Planned
The Ghanaian Times, Tuesday, March 9, 2010; Page 3
Christabel Akoto-Manu & Suzy Ansah

Government is to set-up a fund supporting victims and survivors of domestic violence, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC), Hawawu Boya Gariba, has said. The government, she said, would provide the seed money for the fund whilst the country’s development partners provide material resources. Hajia Gariba made this known yesterday at a ceremony organized by members of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD) to mark the International Women’s Day held under the theme “Equal Right, equal opportunity, progress for all, women with disability inclusive.” She said, “As a step in implementing the Domestic Violence Act, the secretariat that will co-ordinate the implementation of the Domestic Violence Plan of Action has been equipped through the support of the Royal Netherlands Government.”

The Deputy Minister said through collaboration effort of the MOWAC, the Domestic Violence Coalition and Civil Society groups, the Domestic Violence Act was being operationalised. The law, according to her, would protect mothers and their children, and particularly women and girls with disabilities since they were likely to be abused because of their condition.

The Deputy Minister, Hajia Gariba, said the Day was set aside to look at challenges facing women world-wide, celebrate their achievements, and look ahead to the exciting opportunities that awaited women in the future. She described the theme for the day as “appropriate” as it reflected the core mandate and value of the Ministry which included initiating and formulating policies and promoting gender mainstreaming across all sectors that would result in the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women.

She said it was worth noting that this year’s celebration coincided with the 15th anniversary celebration of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) which was adopted by consensus on September 15, 1995. Its adaptation was statement of political commitment by participating government to advance the goals of equality development and peace for all women and girls, the disabled women inclusive.

Hajia Gariba said the extent to which the well-being and future of the physically challenged women and girls could be guaranteed in the country would depend on the amount of investment made in achieving equal rights for them in the broader content of the universal declaration of the fundamental human rights for all as contained in the BDFA and other international and national instruments. “Physically challenged women and girls are the most vulnerable in the society they face challenges restating to their gender as women and discrimination celebrating to their disability” she mentioned.

Hajia Gariba stated that the contribution of GFD towards the protection and care of physically challenged in general and particularly women in the country was tremendous and had helped to keep the flame of the fight for equal rights and protection for the physically challenged burning all this year. Mr. Enock Teye Mensah, Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, said gender activism was something he always advocated. “Women are very powerful and important in our societies and nation at large but they have not been appreciated and recognized” he said, and commended the federation for bringing up such an initiative for women with disability on the International Women’s Day.

Mr. Mensah said the International Women’s Day was a major day of global celebration of love, respect, economic and political freedom for women and should be celebrated as such including those with disabilities. The President of the Ghana Association for the Blind (GAB), Cecilia Bartholomew, said they day was to enable women and girls with disability to draw the world’s attention to their plight and also to demonstrate their capabilities.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Advertisers and Churches are Abusing the Rights of Women

Advertisers and Churches are Abusing the Rights of Women
The Ghanaian Times; Monday, March 8, 2010; Page
Kinsley Asare

A member of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr. Berfi Appenteng has expressed concern about the excessive use of children in advertisements and called for a regulatory framework to control the trend.

Mr. Appenteng who is also the Managing Director of TV Africa said this on Friday at the investiture of the new executive council members of the Advertising Association of Ghana (AAG) in Accra last Friday.

He raised misgivings about the increasing practice of churches showing children and women on television during healing processes, saying that it was a violation of their human rights.He further criticized the emerging trends where radio stations advertised medicines and invited the public to the station to buy such drugs.

Mr. Appenteng said these were challenging times for the media and the advertising industry because their audiences were getting fragmented and warned that the situation would get worse in the next couple of decades with the introduction of digital broadcasting. Mr. Appenteng therefore, encouraged the media and the advertisers association to come out with quality products to meet the competition in the industry.

The out-going president of AAG, Reginald Daniel Laryea, in his address, commended the council and members of the association for their support which had ensured his successful tenure of office.

Outlining some of the achievements of the association during his tenure of office, Mr. Laryea said the association developed a five-year strategic plan; Ghana chapter of the International Advertising Association was formed and also the association was appointed as the country representative at the International Advert Festival.

Other achievements were the formalization of the Institute of Advertising to train personnel of agencies and others interested as professional advertising practioners, presentation of the National Standard for Outdoor advertising to the Ghana Standards Board for gazetting and admission of individual members into the association for the first time in the history of the industry.

Mrs. Norkor Duah, the new president of AAG in her acceptance speech said many countries were struggling to come out of the global economic crisis. Ghana, she said was not spared, creating a crippling effect on the advertising industry, adding ‘We are faced with tremendous challenges as shown in drastic cuts in advertising budgets and promotional activities’.

‘Consequently, advertising agencies have suffered set-backs. We are saddled with dwindling business revenue, making it difficult for us to operate’ she said.

Mindful of these limitations, Mrs. Duah said her team was coming out to implement a strategy designed to revive and sustain the growth of the industry. ‘This requires going back to the basics, the core existence of this association. It implies that we work more in unison now than ever, with our clients and partners, especially the media.’

The 16-member new executive council members, who are to serve for two years, were sworn in by Justice Novisi Aryene, a High Court Judge.

Promoting Women’s Cause must be Collective-MOWAC

Promoting Women’s Cause must be Collective-MOWAC
The Ghanaian Times; Monday, March 8, 2010; Page 6
Times Reporter

On the occasion of International Women’s Day today, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs has asked all to join hands in ensuring an equal and just society where women and girls can develop their potentials.

‘Let us join hands in ensuring an equal and just society where women and girls like their male counterparts are able to develop their full potential without any social, cultural or economic impediments,’ the ministry said, in statement signed by the Deputy Minister Hawawu Boya Gariba.

It congratulated Ghanaian women for their invaluable contribution to the development of their families and the nation and wished all women and girls a happy International Women’s Day.
Meanwhile, to mark the occasion, the Ministry has outlined a number of activities which include, clean-up exercises, symposia and exhibitions.

The events, the statement said, would be u the laudable achievements and progress made so far and the challenges met in advancing gender issues and addressing the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA).

The critical areas include various legislations, policies, institutions and mechanisms in place to advance the cause of women and the promotion of equal rights and opportunities for women, men, girls and boys.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

NETRIGHT reminds gov't of promise to women

NETRIGHT reminds gov't of promise to women

As we mark International Women's Day (IWD), the Network for Women's Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) would like to congratulate all women in Ghana for their contributions towards their own empowerment and gender equality in the face of the many barriers that confront them.

NETRIGHT also wishes to use the occasion to call on the Government of Ghana to translate its promises to promoting women's rights as contained in its party manifesto into concrete actions to achieve true equality for women.

This year's celebration of International Women's Day which falls on March 8 is particularly relevant as an important milestone. Beijing + 15 is being celebrated, with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) currently holding its 54th Session in New York to review progress towards gender equality since the hosting of the ground- breaking Fourth World Conference on Women.

Even though a number of conferences on women have been organised since 1975, it was after the landmark Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 that the global community came up with an internationally agreed plan, namely, the Beijing Platform for Action, to address the many barriers women face in achieving full equality.

The Platform for Action contains 12 critical areas of concern to women in Ghana. There has been some level of progress in meeting the targets set around issues such as Girl Child Education and Violence Against Women. Yet even as women continue to work hard and advocate for concrete actions to address their concerns, the overall advance towards gender equality and promotion of women's rights has been slow and with little effect in terms of real changes in women's lives.

In Ghana, women's political participation is not rising in any significant way. Indeed the last national elections in Parliament saw a reduction in. women's representation in Parliament from 9.6 percent to 8.6 percent. This is in spite of the keen interest women have demonstrated as public decision-makers.

In the area of employment, many women in Ghana are active in the work force but more than half of them are in vulnerable jobs either as self-employed persons or as unpaid family workers in the informal economy with minimum access to credit. Women also have lower inheritance and ownership rights.

Women's health, especially reproductive health is another area of major concern. Unacceptably high levels of death occur every year III Ghana from complications related to pregnancy and child birth. On violence against women, even as the Domestic Violence Law has been passed, implementation has been slow and opposing violence against women in its entirety and holding perpetrators accountable is still a critical issue.

As we celebrate Women's Day therefore, we need to seize upon the excitement around the Beijing + 15 review processes to continue to demand accountability to women's rights and gender equality. This means we have to strengthen our coalitions and mobilisation efforts and demand the needed resources to translate global and national commitments into actions that point out that "progress for women is progress for all" as this year's theme says. A real difference in the lives of Ghanaian women is what is needed after the Beijing + 15 review meeting.

Issued by NETRIGHT on March 5, 2010

Signed by Convenor, Akua Britwum

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Statistics on gender needed

Statistics on gender needed
Daily Graphic, Tuesday, February, 23, 2010; Page 11
Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho

Gender statistics are the body of statistics compiled, analysed and presented by sex, reflecting gender issues in society. This statistics needs to be produced in close co-operation with users to respond to the needs of policy makers, planner, researcher, the media and the public.

According to statisticians, in order for users’ needs to be fully considered, it is necessary to examine gender concerns and goals in society and identify the necessary statistics and indicators to address them with adequate policies and plans to assess and monitor related issues.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) defines gender statistics as a field of statistics that cuts across the traditional fields to identify, produce and disseminate statistics that reflect the realities of the lives of women and men and policy issues relating to gender. Gender statistics, it says, allow for a systematic study of gender differentials and gender issues.

Gender issues are determined by gender-based and/or sex-based differences between women and men and it encompasses all aspects and concerns with how women and men interrelate, their differences in access to and use of resources, their activities and how they react to changes, interventions and policies.

According to gender advocates, gender issues exist in all spheres of society and are therefore relevant to the production of statistics in all fields and intervene at every step of the production process. Gender statistics, according to advocates, are not necessarily and not only statistics disaggregated by sex.

Producing statistics that adequately reflect gender issues implies that all statistics are produces taking into consideration the different socio-economic realities women and men face in society. This means that data, both on the individual as well as those not directly related to individuals, are collected, compiled, and analysed taking into consideration that gender-based factors influence women and men differently – this, according to advocates, can be called gender mainstreaming of statistics.

The impact of data collected on women and men needs to be considered in every step of statistical production and all statistical fields. Concepts and methods used in data collection need to be adequately formulated to ensure they reflect existing gender concerns and differentials. Additionally, social and cultural factors, according to gender advocates, must be taken into consideration as they can result in gender-based biases in data collection, analysis and presentation.

They say that although the presentation of information on women and men follows the general rules for statistical presentation, one must keep in mind that the presentation aims at facilitating comparisons between women and men, as well as increasing the awareness of gender differentials.

Advocates further contend that the main point is not the mere existence of such differences, but the fact that these differences should not have a negative impact the living conditions of both women and men, should not discriminate against them and should contribute to an equal sharing of power in economy, society and policy-making processes.

Some policy areas where gender statistics have been identifies to influence include population, families and households, work and the economy, education and communication, public life and decision-making, health, crime and violence.

It is inline with ensuring that gender statistics are incorporated in data collection in that country that they Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) with support from the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has set up a gender statistic working group made up of experts from government and non-governmental agencies to identify gender gaps in the production of statistics in the country.

The group, which was launched in Accra, held its first meeting and made of researchers, gender advocates, UN agencies, civil organization and academia, will also outline how gender statistics should be produced and used and how it use should be promoted by government, planning bodies, the media, research institutions and other stakeholders.

The Government Statistician, Dr Grace Bediako, in an address said the Beijing Platform for Action adopted for nations 15 years ago emphasized the need to disaggregate data by sex across board so as to produce data by sex.

She said there was a need to re-look at the statistical system in the country, since a change in the way of data collection would be met with some resistance as new forms would have to be designed for administrative purposes.

She said the time had come for the country to move the issues of gender statistics forward by striving to ensure that a conscious effort was made to bridge the knowledge gap in gender mainstreaming.

The UNIFEM Country Representative, Ms Afua Ansre, in a remark said Ghana had acceded to all international requirements to make gender equality a reality in the country.

She said a sex disaggregated data was needed in all areas of policy making in the country, saying, that without such data, the country could not meet its international obligations with regards to gender mainstreaming.

She also called on the government to make use of such data when they are generated, saying that although the GSS had some genders disaggregated data it was underutilised.

A director at the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC), Ms Patience Opoku, in a remark said developing a sex disaggregated data would help the ministry to achieve its mandate of ensuring that issues of women were given the needed priority.

She said the ministry was preparing to actively showcase its achievements at the forthcoming women to be held in New York next month.

The Regional Coordinator, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, Ms Diana Tempelman, who was the guest speaker at the launch of the group, said the lack of gender statistics was a major constraint in developing gender responsive policies and programmes.

She said statistics and indicators on gender relations were needed for informed policy decision and monitoring of programmes, saying that the group would help improve the capacity of both producers and users of gender statistic to produce and use gender-sensitive indicators and sex disaggregated data to inform policy formulation, monitoring and reporting.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Women Sweep Awards

Women Sweep Awards
Daily Graphic, Monday, February 22, 2010; Page 57
Adwoa Buahema

Out of 30 entrepreneurs who participated in a rigorous three-week training exercise, 15 qualified to partake in a competitive 13-week TV reality show for a winning prize that will uplift their business game.

In a novel state-of-the-art Bullseye Marketing initiative dubbed Lift Your Game (LYG), women swept five final positions.

This is the first of its kind known in Ghana, LYG’s goal is to unleash business potential and create at least 100 new direct and indirect jobs in Ghana.

The initiative responds to several present and pressing market needs across Africa, explore real yet often elusive basic requirements in business, commands attention and indulgence from seasoned practitioners, questions prohibitively rigid credit policies for MSMEs in our financial institution, and challenges the ordinary folk in the informal sector to dare ‘fall off their cliff’ and glide into astounding returns.

And astounding indeed have been the results. The participants, who came from a diverse mix of ages, locations and industries, interacted with a team f experienced local resource persons chosen for their extensive filed knowledge, experienced, proven integrity and track record.

They expressed profound satisfaction and unqualified gratitude to the organisers, first for a uniquely enriching learning experience, and secondly for the positive exposure the programme has brought to their businesses.

Transformed through the renewal of their business perspectives, self-esteem and confidence, many of these participants have already taken new actions such as cutting down on production costs with compromising value, improving staff and client relations, streamlining legal and financial processes, strategic marketing and targeted selling, offering free services alongside the optimisation of sales, and pursuing strategic alliances which have significantly increased returns, even up to a projected 400 per cent increase.

Of particular interest, however, is the impressive performance of the female contestants which highlights an issue of global development interest: Empowering women.

Out of a total of nine women, five of them took the finalist position by storm. The Guest of Honour at the ceremony, the Minster of Trade, Miss Hannah Tetteh, congratulated the finalists for demonstrating exceptional business acumen.

They were: Vida Sarpong, CEO of Visap Seafood Enterprise, who is in the business of fish processing and distribution; Rosemond Asamoah, CEO of Women’s World Beauty, in the business of personal grooming and care; Christine Osie Doe of Unique Coffee Shop who processes mango jam and distributes to retail stores; Horlase Anku is a moringa farmer who wants to extend the benefits of moringa to her community; Jessie Bartels, who won the competition, is the CEO of Renom Food Farm, a mushroom and grasscutter farming company in Dodowa.

A panel of judges accounted for 70 per cent of votes, while the general public carried 30 per cent.

So given equal opportunities and socio-economic incentives, are women better entrepreneurs?

A study using an Austrian economic model of entrepreneurship analsyed why women in enterprise is still a relatively untapped economic resource. It discussed a list of obstacles women face in entrepreneurship process such as lack of role models, type of education, gendering of entrepreneurship, weak social status, competing demands on time (such as family responsibilities), and access to finance.

In response to research results by the Centre of Asia Pacific Studies on GE Money Bank (GEMB) targeted women, whose anecdotal evidence showed continued to be disadvantaged because of their gender, with many parents, especially in the rural areas, still preferring to send males to school, often at the expense of females; and in 2006, partnered with Let’s Go Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on entrepreneurship education, to develop its corporate citizenship programme that focuses on empowering women through entrepreneurship.

They created a curriculum for entrepreneurship training programme specifically tailored to the needs of would-be women entrepreneurs, and partnered with other women groups to implement the newly devised curriculum.

The goal was to teach women to venture into entrepreneurship even before finishing school so that they could become, after schooling, not job seekers but job providers.

Curiously, in the same year, out of 40 countries studied, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2006 discovered that only in the Philippines were women significantly more active in starting up businesses than men. Could this be a result of the developmental initiatives to uplift their quality of life and that of others, while generating the revenue of the Philippines?

In Ghana, it is recorded that women more often satisfy loan obligation than their male counterparts, yet they continue to face rigid read tape, counterproductively high interest rates, and sometimes rejection by financial institutions.

Often the industries chosen by women, primarily retail, education and other services are perceived to be less important for economic growth and development than the male predominated high technology and manufacturing industries. But the trade-offs of these “less important” trades, both tangible and intangible, are enormous for communities.

By all count, Lift Your Game is innovative, proactive, powerful, relevant and spot-on responsive, and needs to be sustained to enrich our society; and certainly, such laudable initiatives require committed partnerships with financial institutions to thrive.

Would our established financial institutions be willing to seriously bank on MSME’s, specifically women entrepreneurs, as exemplified in the Philippines to encourage them to create jobs?

But be it as may, more and more women are venturing into venture capital. With training they are better poised to embrace and overcome some of the gnawing bottlenecks in today’s market for MSMEs in general, and women in particular, and Bullseye Marketing is committed to helping transform those who dare to start into successful job creators through cutting edge entrepreneurial training.

Lift Your Game was sponsored by MTN and supported by the BDS Fund. Bullseye Marketing is also the brainchild of the popular, award-winning “M’asem” programme on TV 3.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Group to Generate Statistics on Gender

Group to Generate Statistics on Gender
The Ghanaian Times, Thursday February 18, 2010; Page 16
Edmund Mingle & Benjamin Sekyere Owusu

A Gender Statistics Working Group (GSWG), a group of gender development experts working to enhance statistical data on gender, was launched in Accra with a call for the provision of accurate data on gender.

The GSWG, an initiative of the Ghana Statistical Service in collaboration with the United Nations Developmental Fund for Women is aimed at facilitating the development of statistical data to aid effective planning for the growth of both the male and female gender.

The launch which was also to kick-start the meeting of the group had the theme, “Gender mainstreaming for equitable development,” Dr. Grace Bediako, Government Statistician in her address, called for improvement in the development and use of statistics on the gender in the country was not impressive.

That, she said, was affecting the implementation of national planning programs, especially those relating to poverty alleviation, since the present data on women and children was not adequate.
Even with the existing data, she said not much was being used for the development of women and children saying there was the need to maximize the use of data.

“We must make headway” she stressed, adding that without that, the objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action would not be attained in Ghana.

Ms Diana Tempelman, Regional Coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization in her keynote address, lauded the formation of the group indicating that without accurate data three would not be effective planning for gender development. “This is the ground breaking event in the area of gender data development," she said.

Describing the work of the group as an absolute necessity for gender planning, Ms Templeman was hopeful that the provision of accurate data would enhance Ghana’s attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Mrs. Benedicta Kwame, Chief Economic Planning Officer at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, launching the initiative, urge all stakeholders to be committed and effectively contributed to towards achieving the objectives of the GSWG.

The members of the GSWG are drawn from the academia, government ministries, civil society groups security agencies and international development agencies.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions- A myth or reality?

Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions- A myth or reality?
Daily Graphic, February 11, 2010; Page 11
Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho

A report of a recent research by Professor Luoise Morley and Dr Kattie Lussier of the University of Sussex, UK, that established that some male lecturers in Ghana and Tanzania “consider it their right to demand sex for grades”, has stirred discussions in various circles. The two conducted 200 interviews with academics and policy makers and 200 life-history interviews with students. They wrote their study after encountering widespread reports of sexual harassment suffered by female students during separate research on widening participation in the two countries’ higher education systems.

In a paper, Sex, Grades and Power: Gender Violence in Africa Higher Education, they said the “hierarchical power relations within universities appear to have neutralized a sexual contract in which some male academics consider it their right to demand sex for grades. This has led to the “constructive of negative female learner identities”, they added, and explained that “if women fail, this is seen as evidence of their lack of academic abilities and preparedness of higher education. If they achieve academically, this is attributed to prostitution”.

A survey conducted by the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) in 2003 defined sexual harassment as any unwelcome conduct, comment, gesture or contact of sexual nature, whether on a one time basis or a series of incidents, that might cause offence, humiliation, awkwardness or embarrassment, or that might reasonably be conceived as placing a condition of a sexual nature on employment, opportunity for promotion, grades, etc.

Sexual harassment negatively affects a woman’s psychological and or physical well being and or leads to negative job or academic environment-related consequences for her. In the educational environment, the phenomenon which normally affects girls and women more than boys and men, has a potential to erode the future of many female pupils and students who are mostly the victims but do not have access to any counseling or channels for redress.

Professor Morley, Director of the Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research at Sussex and lead research, said sexual harassment in universities was not limited to Africa. “It’s a global issue,” she told Times Higher Education. “It’s about power and the abuse of power.” Professor Morley, who hopes to research the issue further, said the interview showed that sexual harassment had become “normalized” within some universities. Male students’ assumption about “prostitution” among their female peers “diminished women’s achievements,” she said recent findings by the United Nations suggest that sexual exploitation and abuse within schools is widespread but largely an unrecognized problem in many countries. The closed nature of the school environment according to the UN meant that students could be at great risk of sexual exploitation.

However the Vice Chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Prof. Kwesi Kwarfo Adarkwa, according to media reports, had denied that such a thing existed in that particular university. Prof. Adarkwa said female students were outperforming their male counterparts, adding that the university’s quality assurance office ensured students got quality education.

Some lecturers and students, however, think otherwise and a family life counselor and lecturer at the Engineering Faculty, Vincent Akwaa, said his encounter with female students indicate widespread harassment from male lecturer, and points out that some female students who were faced with academic challenges approached lecturers for such favours. Some students who were interviewed on a Kumasi-based radio station also confirmed that sexual harassment of female students by male lecturers was real. “It’s not a perception, it’s a reality. It goes on in every campus and the lecturers cannot deny it,” one student said.

The 2003 AWLA survey involved a total of 789 women respondents made up of 440 (56 per cent) workers and 349 (44 per cent) students. It called for awareness creation on this phenomenon and to combat the incident at the workplace and academic environment. It also recommended the need to formulate ‘based practices’ in the workplace and academia to minimize the incident of sexual harassment.

It also advocated co-operation between key players and stakeholders in a formal workplace environment and academia, and to sensitize the government to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment. Among some of the most common effects experienced by respondents in the AWLA survey were anger (48 percent), followed by surprise, disgust, indifference shame and fear. A total of 29 per cent of respondents said their experience of sexual harassment had a detrimental effect on the productivity and described loss of concentration, loss of interest, and low academic performance among other as some of the effects on productivity. Seventy-six respondents (15 per cent) expressed fear of losing their jobs or academic standing. When asked whether or not the experience had been reported to a superior person, 360 respondents (73 per cent) responded in the negative and 129 (26 per cent) responded in the affirmative. Only 19 per cent of the 129 respondents who reported the conduct to their superiors received a positive response. While 24 per cent of these respondents indicated that their harassers were queried.

The Women’s Commissioner on the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), Ms Evelyn Ampomah Nkansah, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said most tertiary institutions in the country did not have a sexual harassment policy to address such sexual advances in schools. According to her although some lecturers may be at fault, it could not be ruled out that some female students also indulge in the practice of ‘sex for grades’ because they did not want to learn.
According to her, such issues, when reported to the authorities, were normally dealt with as and when they happened without the schools having any proper or laid down guidelines to tackle them. The Women’s Commissioner said so far many of such reports were informal as students who became victims were not bold enough to report to the school authorities for fear of being victimized in their examination and therefore most of them suffer in silence.

As a way of helping to curb the issue, Ms Nkansah said her outfit undertook seminars and programmes on the various campuses to educate female students on their gender and reproductive rights, unsafe abortions among other, to ensure that the young ladies were empowered to know their rights sexually.

Most of the tertiary institutions in the country do not have comprehensive policies on sexual harassment and this therefore makes it difficult for such situations to be handled professionally. Also with the springing up of many diploma awarding institutions and private universities, the issues of sexual harassment has become more complex as it is difficult to track what goes on in all the institutions. Speaking to some heads of faculties in some tertiary institutions, the general consensus was that they did not have separate laws to tackle sexual harassment but that laws on sexual harassment were captured in the schools general policies that dealt with other issues such as drug abuse, misconduct, among other deviant behaviours.

A Human Rights Activist and Lawyer, Nana Oye Lithur, in a reaction to the UK survey findings said there was the need for tertiary institutions in the country to have separate policy guidelines on sexual harassment as the issue has become rampant.

According to her, the National Council on Tertiary Education which had oversight responsibility for the tertiary education in the country should come up with a law that would mandate all tertiary institutions to have separate policies on sexual harassment, since the issue has become a pervasive one affecting most tertiary institutions in the country.

She said international practices has clear policies on sexual harassment, which according to her were gender neutral and could be accessed by all. She explained that the issue of sexual harassment in schools has become one of power relations where the vulnerable ones had no alternative but to accept such proposals from their superiors. “We need such policies to give victims the provision on what constitute sexual harassment and how victims could report so that students who fell victims would be able to report to the school authority for the appropriate action to be taken.

Nana Oye said making a sexual harassment policy part of the general policy of an institution was not good enough and termed it as a “weak policy”, which according to her would not encourage students to report the conduct of their lecturers for fear of being failed or referred. She reinforced the AWLA survey which said “the fact that very few women will report sexual harassment to the police or to an investigative or advocacy institution suggests that the profile of these institutions must be raised so that more people are aware that they may bring complains to them. However, the ability of these institutions to deliver satisfactory responses to complainants must also be improved.”