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.