The Ghana government will soon appoint Gender Officers in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as Municipal, Metropolitan and District Assemblies, the Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs has said in a statement read on her behalf at the opening of a conference in Accra, Monday October 12, 2012.
According to Mrs. Juliana Azumah, the action is to institutionalize gender mainstreaming in the country.
“Job descriptions have therefore been developed for Gender Officers within the Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as the Municipal, Metropolitan and District Assemblies (MMDAs). This would guide them in mainstreaming a gender perspective in their institutions policies, programmes and activities,” she said.
The three-day continental conference under the theme “Mainstreaming Gender into Trade Policy” seeks to increase women’s voices in trade policy and negotiations.
The Minister indicated that the Gender Officers would guide the government agencies in mainstreaming gender perspectives in their institutions’ policies, programmes and activities, which will include trade policies at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
“For the effectiveness of gender mainstreaming in MDAs and MMDAs, which is the main mandate of the Ministry, a memorandum of understanding has also been developed to be signed by all key actors for the successful implementation of gender mainstreaming across all sectors,” she said.
The Minister argued that gender-based inequalities relating to control over resources such as land, credit and skills not only hinder women’s ability to take advantage of new opportunities created by a particular trade policy, but also stifles the growth capacity of the whole economy.
“Gender inequalities in education, health and access to farm inputs often dampen output, productivity and growth rates, and thus hinder export performance, particularly in agricultural economies dominated by smallholders,” she said, adding, “research has shown that gender-based inequality in households acts to constrain output capacity in sub-Saharan economies.”
In the address read on behalf of the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms. Hannah Tetteh, she said for Africa to succeed in terms of its human development, the concerns and experiences of both men and women should be an integral part of design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and social spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality becomes a thing of the past.
According to the Minister, the recent experiences in trade liberalization and their impacts on gender equality, calls for a strong case for the need to incorporate gender perspectives into overall trade policy design and implementation. She argued that doing so will help bring a better understanding of the specific challenges and opportunities that women and men face from trade policy.
“This will help fashion out trade policies that will maximize opportunities for all,” she said.
In his remarks, Mr. Alan Kyerematen, Coordinator of the The African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said the main objective of the conference is to strengthen the capacity of African countries to formulate more gender responsive trade policies.
According to him, by increasing the capacities of African countries to mainstream gender analysis into trade policy, they will be in a better position to exploit the potential opportunities for both African men and women within the international trading system.
“They will also be more successful in ensuring coherence between trade policy and the empowerment of African women, part of the national development policies of all African countries,” he said.
Mr. Kyerematen said the ATPC decided to organize the conference to have the voice of women better heard in order to assist African trade policy makers to take women’s contributions and needs more into consideration in future trade policy formulation and practices.
“ATPC feels a need for more attention to be paid to gender issues in trade. Gender should play a more critical role in the emerging regional trade discourse in Africa,” he said.
Mr. Kyerematen emphasising the importance of gender equality, pointed out that it is highlighted in Millennium Development Goal No. 3, on promoting gender equality and empowering women.
“Women play an important role in the economy; discrimination and marginalization reduce their contribution in the economy, making countries worse off, since gender discrimination tends to reduce growth and hold back development by crippling part of countries’ human capital. It is therefore high time for gender equality to be incorporated more broadly into development policy- making,” he said.
The Conference, being organized by the ATPC in collaboration with the ECA Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade Division (RITD), the African Centre for Gender and Social Development (ACGSD) of the ECA with support from Canadian funds will end on Wednesday November 14, 2012.
It is being attended by more than 80 participants from 36 countries including the USA and Canada.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi