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