Thursday, January 21, 2010

ABANTU selected for UNIFEM grant

ABANTU selected for UNIFEM grant
Daily Graphic, Thursday, 21st January, 2010; Page 11, (Gender & Children)

ABANTU for Development, a gender and policy advocacy organization based in Ghana, is one of the six organizations in sub-Saharan Africa selected as recipients of United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM’s) Catalytic Grant for Gender Equality for the 2009 grant cycle.

The other beneficiary organizations are from Cameroun, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda. The Fund’s Catalytic Grant category is one of two types of high-impact grants designed to advance innovative programmes which focus on women’s economic and political empowerment at local and national levels worldwide.

UNIFEM announced in a press release in New York this week that the new UNIFEM-managed mutli-lateral Fund for Gender Equality received 543 applications for the Catalytic Category from across the world and 27 were selected in 26 countries- 89 per cent led by civil society organizations and 11 per cent by government agencies.

The recently established Fund is designed to advance innovative programmes aimed at accelerating efforts to advance commitments to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Beijing Platform for Action, the UN Conventional on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and other global and regional agreements.

The recipients represent broad regional and thematic diversity. Their initiatives range from supporting women in the informal sector to increasing greater political participation by women. Initiatives also focus on women facing hazards of food security and climate change to indigenous women and those in high-risk groups, such as women affected by HIV and AIDS.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Let’s protect victims of gender-based violence

Let’s protect victims of gender-based violence
Daily Graphic, Tuesday, 19th January, 2010; Page 6, (Gender and Children)
Adolf Awuku Bekoe

I was glued to my television set savouring the thoughtful and well-articulated responses to questions posed to President J.E.A. Mills by the media during his recent encounter with the press at the Castle.

Then came the turn of Eyram Acolaste of Metro TV. I was excited about her intervention because I had waited all morning during the encounter to hear something said for women and children.

Her concern to Mr. President was about the need for shelter for abused women and children and this was that I thought I heard Mr. President say, “We don’t have enough resources,” ‘what are our priorities?’ if what I heard was what he really said, then it is clear that victims/survivors of gender based violence are not a priority worthy of spending hard-earned national resources, on.

So it does not matter how often the Ministry for Women and Children’s Affairs inundates the Cabinet with the concerns of victims/survivors of violence, the Cabinet’s response would be “lack of resources.” The Cabinet must be a lonely place for Ms Dansua indeed! Many questions arose from the President’s comments.

Is the Cabinet-status position of MOWAC enough to secure women their fair share of the national cake? How influential is the voice of the minister? Is government really concerned about the safety of Ghanaians, particularly women and children? And finally, is there hope for the resuscitation of the Department of Social Welfare which has been in ‘coma’ for a long time and is now slipping off its life support?

If I were to rely on only the President’s interaction with the media for answers to the above questions, I would sink into a long period of major depression.

This is because, there was nothing to clutch on to optimistically respond to the above questions. The President’s responses did not offer hope for many women and children, who are wreathing in pain because of gender-based violence and homeless because they have no peace in their homes.

Worst still, others have become lifeless and bound for the cemetery because no one stood for them; Oh yes, with no money to build them safe houses, they could not defend themselves against the rage of their assailants, most of whom, unfortunately, are their intimate partners.

It is not my aim to proffer detailed answers to the above questions today, at a later date, I will attempt to do so, at least with the help of those who are in a position to tell me I did not hear the President right.

In the meantime, I would say that the President’s responses mean more than there is no money to build shelters. His declaration is a reflection of a deep-seated pedestrian attitude of policy makers to social welfare issues in the country.

Any wonder the Department of Social Welfare is in such a sordid state. The anguish, lamentations and sheer resilience of victims/survivors are enough to arouse any dead cell in me to stand with them. I am not alone in this regard; there are many advocates across the length and breadth of this country who are doing so much work with meager resources to affirm the humanity of victims/survivors.

I know some of you are busily finalising your work plans for the year and are devastating and humiliated by the President’s remarks as you dialogue with your donors.

To be fair to the President, every government must have priorities; so it is good to hear him talk about priorities. In the same vein, citizens have priorities based on which they are supposed to enter into a social pact with a political party that best articulates these priorities in an election year and vote them into government. Without doubt, I believe that the women of Ghana, convinced by their own plight and that of her children, voted for the Mills administrations so that they could be guaranteed safety. Safety, therefore, is a priority for women and children.

In the 2005 budget, the Australian government announced a Women’s Safety agenda programme at a cost of 75.7 million over four years. Five years down the line, a government under the leadership of a President, who not too long ago in New York extolled his government’s commitment to women’s empowerment, says there are no resources to protect women and children and protecting them is not a priority for his government.

Well, Mr. President, safety is a priority for Ghanaian women and children. Fortunately, your administration is not at the end of its term; in fact you are just a year into your term and you can quickly make protection for women and children a priority without losing focus.

Lest I forget, whilst the President says there is no money, the Dutch government has committed millions of euros over the next three years for the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. Is domestic violence in Ghana the priority of the Dutch government? Why should the Dutch government sweat for the pepper Ghanaians have chewed? When at all shall we learn to put our money where our mouth is?

The President and his government must find money and build us shelters; this is what governments who care for their people do; they respect the laws of the land. Building shelters for abused women and children is a provision in the Domestic Violence Act 2007 (Act 732)!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Woman accused of witchcraft calls for justice

Woman accused of witchcraft calls for justice
Daily Graphic, Thursday, 13th January, 2010; Page 11, (Gender and Children)
Chris Nunoo, Wa

A 52-year old woman from Sokpeyiri, a village in the Wa West District in the Upper West Region, who was allegedly subjected to inhumane treatment by a soothsayer and two other persons is calling for justice.

The woman, Madam Sunkari Ghanyi, said she felt humiliated, depressed and demoralized when she was wrongly accused of being a witch and having a hand in the death of her husband’s relative for which she was forced to drink a concoction, which since had some psychological effects of her.

She explained that the concoction was made of the blood of a slaughtered fowl mixed with water and sand, as well as the chopped legs of a live taod.

Madam Ghanyi, who was in the company of some members of her family, called at the Wa office of the Daily Graphic to narrate her story, is, therefore appealing to the Chief Justice and human rights organizations to intervene in the matter so that justice would be done.

Amid sobbing, she said, “I feel I have been handed a raw deal by the Wa District Magistrate’s Court, which acquitted and discharged the three suspects involved in the matter.”

She said sometimes in the year 2008, the wife of her husband’s nephew had some compliations during pregnancy and dies while in labour together with her unborn baby at the Wa Hospital.

She said a few months after the death of the woman, her brother-in-law, one Bagabu Naa, who travelled to the southern part of the country at the time of the death of the woman, returned to Sokpeyiri and did not take kindly to the news of the death of the daughter-in-law.

She said Bagabu Naa, in the company of one Kojo Zineta, who was the guardian of the deceased, went in for a soothsayer known as Naasoyili Anderanaa to find out the cause of the death of the woman.

She said she (Ghanyi) were assembled by the soothsayer, who performed some rituals. She said the soothsayer first pointed at one woman as the one who caused the death of the pregnant woman but her children, who were around, protested vehemently as a result of which the soothsayer rescinded the decision.

She said after a few incantations, her pointed to another to another person, whose children resisted all attempts to blame their mother for the death of the pregnant woman.

She said the soothsayer then pointed to her as the main culprit who caused the death of the pregnant woman and her unborn baby.

She said because she did not have anyone to talk for her, she was not given a hearing after she and her son challenged the soothsayer, who, she said, by then had the total support of those present.

In ensuing hot exchanges, Madam Ghanyi said the soothsayer then claimed he was going to prepare some concoction for her to drink and that if she did not confess within three days she would die.

“He already had some liquid in a calabash and so he slaughtered a fowl, poured the blood into the calabash, mixed it with sand, and added the chopped legs of a live toad after which he (the soothsayer) asked me to drink,” she said amid tears, adding that for fear of her life, she had no choice but to gulp down the concoction.

Madam Ghanyi said when after three days nothing happened to her Bagabu Naa, her brother-in-law threatened to kill her and so shee run to Wa to inform a relative, who suggested that they report the matter to the police.

She said, the three, Bagabu Naa, Kojo Zineta and the soothsayer, Naasoyili Anderanaa, were charged after police investigations and processed before court but after almost two years of court sittings, the accused persons were acquitted and discharged.

She said the whole incident has affected her psychological and that she sometimes did not feel like a human being who deserved to live, adding that as a result of the threats on her life, among other accusations, she had been compelled to run away from Sokpeyiri for her safety.

Blog Administrator's Question: If Madam Ghanyi's husband was alive, where was he throughout all this? Did he choose not to protect his wife but kept silent while Bagabu Naa and the others met out inhumane treatment to her? Has he abandoned her now? Has the justice system failed?

Adhere to Gender Equality- WiLDAF

Adhere to Gender Equality- WiLDAF
Daily Graphic, Wednesday, 13th January, 2010; Page 15, (Politics)

A Gender NGO, Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF, Ghana), last Monday reminded political parties to abide by their promises to ensure gender equality and affirmative action at their forthcoming congress to elect national executives.

In a statement signed by their Ms Bernice Sam, National Programme Coordinator, WiLDAF Ghana, it noted that in a few days the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) would hold national delegates congress to elect national executives.

“Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF Ghana) and partners of the We Know Politics Project wish them well believing that multi-party democracy and respect for individual rights have now become part of Ghana’s bedrock for sustainable development.”

“We are also taking this opportunity to remind the parties of their commitment to ensure at least 30 per cent representation of women in their executive structures.”

It said this commitment was made in a communiqué agreed between the Institute of Economic Affairs and four political parties with representation in Parliament on 30 June, 2009 at Akosombo in the Eastern Region.

“Interestingly, the NDC has an arduous task to prove its commitment to gender equality above the 30 per cent representation in the Akosombo Declaration.”

It said the party committed itself to 40 per cent representation of women contained in its Better Ghana Manifesto, promises of President John Atta Mills to Ghanaians in statements during the 2008 electioneering and also his State of the Nation address to Parliament on February 19, 2009.

WiLDAF said the NPP, on the other hand, whilst in government, had ratified the Protocol to the Africa Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa in 2007 and endorsed the Africa Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in 2004.

“As these political parties go to congress, the onus is on them to demonstrate their commitment to gender equality through the election of gender-balanced national executive.”

“The number of women that emerges as executive at the political parties congresses could further be a ‘hint’ of how many women these political parties feature as parliamentary candidates, vice-presidential running mates or presidential candidates in the 2012 general election.”

WiLDAF said if the NDC and NPP failed to meet the target set in the Communiqué of the June 30, 2009, “then it will be an embarrassment to citizens of Ghana before the international community whom our governments have made commitments demonstrated through ratification, signatures and reporting on gender equality.”

It said alternatively, when gender-balance was achieved at congresses, it would be a feather in the cap of the country and a demonstration of its commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Beijing Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals.

“The fact is the performance of government towards advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment in many areas, including discriminatory cultural practices and political representation has not been very encouraging.”

WiLDAF said 2010 marked an important milestone for the United Nations as it reviewed the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action by states 15 after its adoption.
It noted that Ghana Beijing State Report revealed the appalling statistics of women in political and public life below the 30 per cent threshold agreed States in Beijing.

This year, it added, also marked the mid-point review of Ghana’s commitment to the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality which called for 30 per cent representation of women in political life.

“A thousand of a thousand miles starts with the first. As we journey towards the 2012 elections, these initial steps- congresses- taken by political parties will determines how the end result of our general elections will be.” ---- GNA

Friday, January 1, 2010

Women make money out of trash

Women make money out of trash
Daily Graphic, Friday, 1st January, 2010; Page 19, (News)
Abdul Aziz

One hundred and eighty women have undergone a training programme to enable them to recycle plastic waste into handbags for sale in supermarkets.

The project, known as Trashes for Treasure, is being provided for women, especially young girls, under the auspices of Students in Free Enterprises (SIFE).

The project, which is aimed at women empowerment, recycles trash such as plastic and metal waste to manufacture bags, door mats and the metal waste to mould sculptures.

Sixty of the trainees were drawn from Abokobi and its surrounding areas in the Ga East Municipal Assembly to empower the young girls and discourage them from emigrating to the urban centres in search of no-existent jobs.

The remaining 120 women were drawn from the campus of the Institute of Professional Studies who are required to use innovating ways of creating employment for themselves when they graduate from the institute instead of waiting for employment from the government.

Mr. Frnacis Antwi, the Coordinator of the IPS branch of SIFE, in an interview said the branch undertook the training programme in collaboration with Rural Women Support Network based in Abokobi and Village Network, also a local NGO.

He said Students in Free Enterprises was an initiative of an American who loved and worked in Ghana and experienced the harrowing experiences of women had to undergo to secure training and macro-credit to start their own income-generating ventures.

He said SIFE, therefore, attached great importance to the granting of macro-credit facilities to rural and urban poor to start their businesses.

He said currently a Fulani herdswoman had been selected from Abokobi to be used as a model in the establishment of a diary plant for the manufacture of ice cream and yoghurt.

Mr Antwi said the project to turn fresh cow milk into yoghurt, if patronized, could be replicated across the country to help eradicate poverty and break its cycle in the rural areas.

The Coordinator expressed the hope that when the rural areas provided the enabling environment for the youth to earn a livelihood, it would discourage them from migrating to urban centres in search of jobs.

Mr. Antwi appealed to the youth, especially those in the rural areas, to learn a trade or acquire a profession instead of migrating to urban centres to look for non-existent jobs, which often landed them in bad company with its attendant antisocial activities such as indulging in pornography and prostitution.