A national women’s forum that seeks to review the setback which retards women’s increased representation in decision making positions in Ghana on Tuesday opened in Accra with a call on society to work towards achieving equal citizenship among men and women.
Dr Rose Mensah Kutin, Executive Director, Abantu for Development, who made the call, said in spite of various efforts made to ensure gender parity in leadership position in the country, there was still huge gaps in linking up the numbers of women to the positions and issues in the country.
Speaking at the Gender forum, organized to discuss how the current government could be held accountable for its promise of having 30 per cent appointments of women in decisions-making level, Dr Kutin said the perception of women “being in the way” should be changed and every opportunity be given women as citizens with equal rights in occupying any leadership positions.
The Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre, (Gender Centre) hosted the forum, which was also aimed at exploring and identifying roles that civil society organizations (CSOs) could play in ensuring that more women rise to higher levels of decision making.
The forum forms part of activities planned for the four-year women in Leadership Project, currently being implemented by the Gender Centre, in collaboration with Womankind worldwide of United Kingdom.
Ms Dorcas Coker-Appiah, Executive Director, Gender Centre, expressed regrets that successive governments’ promises to increase women participation in leadership positions to between 30 and 40 per cent had not materialized till date.
She said the forum is to strategise on ways to support women to aspire to higher positions as citizens with equal rights as men.
Professor Dzodzi Tsikata, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, said with society being a patriarchal entity, various factors militate against women who aspire for leadership.
She mentioned religion, family, school as well as other social structures, as some of the institutions that had been structured to relegate women to the background.
Prof Tsikata explained that though religion and faith based organization provide home for more women, it still entrenches the position of putting women at the background and rather put men into leadership.
She said instead of religion preaching mutual love and respect among men and women, it rather continues to preach women submissiveness to the extreme.
At the family level, Prof Tsikata said women continue to do all the menial and unpaid jobs at home and in society whilst men do all the paid jobs, thereby making them financially empowered than women
She said at the political party level, there were only few women that were either appointed or elected to occupy leadership positions.
“Few high profile appointments of women are not sufficient enough and should not be accepted just like that” Prof Tsikata said.
She therefore called on CSOs and other stakeholders to “fight” for legislation to support equality in the appointment of leaders as well as name and shame politicians and other people who make hostile arguments against gender parity in the country.
She said the few women holding various positions and offices should be monitored and supported so that they could manage their institutions and deliver on their mandate.