Gender activists evaluate impact of Ghana’s intestate succession law
A national gender dialogue to assess the impact of the country’s intestate succession law (PNDCL111) after 30 years of promulgation towards protecting the survival of spouses and children’s rights was held on Tuesday.
The dialogue, which is the third in series, coincided with this year’s International Women’s Day to celebrate women’s achievements from political to socio-economic, while calling for gender equality in all spheres of life.
Welcoming hundreds of gender activists including market women, queen mothers, traditional leaders and professional bodies, Nana Oye Lithur, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, noted that the PNDC Law 111 opened the floodgates for women’s empowerment in Ghana.
She described the law introduced in 1985 as revolutionary, unique, historical and radical that changed deep-seated cultural, customary and traditional practices affecting survival of spouses and children.
“PNDC Law 111 was radical, it was unique, it was historical, the first ever in Africa and I daresay the world, it went against the grain,” she said.
“It turned Ghanaian customs and traditions on inheritance around, especially the Akan customary law, and matrilineal inheritance systems,” Nana Lithur added.
PNDC Law 111 played a significant role in protecting the inheritance and property rights of women as far back as 1985, she said, and called on gender activists to work hard to improve the status of women in Ghana.
Nana Lithur expressed gratitude to former President Jerry John Rawlings and former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings for their “vision, foresight, courage and effort” in the passage and enforcement of the law.
Nana Lithur said the Ministry has jointly sponsored the property rights of spouses’ bill and the intestate succession bill in 2009 to amend the current anomalies identified in the PNDCL 111.
“The intent of the Bill is to address the anomalies as contained in the PNDCL 111 and to provide a uniform intestate succession applicable throughout the country and in various cultural and religious settings,” she said.
“This is part of the Ministry’s work to strengthen the legal framework for the protection of all vulnerable persons,” she added.
Some experts, however, say evolving dynamics of life such as joint economic activity of spouses, the difficult nature of matrilineal and patrilineal systems, poverty and discriminatory social and cultural practices, still challenged the application of the law.
Gender dialogue is an integral aspect of the Ministry’s strategy in championing gender equality and ensuring that a national platform is created to discuss emerging gender issues to deepen national development agenda.
The meeting marked an important step in assessing intestate succession in the country and interrogating women’s emancipation, gender equality and gender mainstreaming.