In commemoration of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021, the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), has urged the Government to prioritise the laying of the Affirmative Action Bill before Parliament.
A statement issued by CDD-Ghana, copied to the Ghana News Agency, acknowledged women and other gender equality promoters whose consistent efforts over the years, had contributed to various levels of improvements in women representation within all sectors of the country, particularly, in governance.
It said this year’s IWD, which was being celebrated on the theme: “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” presented another opportunity for government and all stakeholders to reflect critically on the paucity of women’s participation in public and political life and the impediments facing women’s access to decision-making structures.
“It is disappointing to note that close to three decades of the Fourth Republican Constitution, Ghana has been unable to put measures in place to actualise Article 35 (6) which mandates the State to ‘take appropriate measures to achieve reasonable regional and gender balance in the recruitment and appointment to public offices’ despite the immense contribution of women to political life,” it said.
The statement said the implementation of similar progressive policies in international treaties and charters and legal instruments put in place by the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other regional bodies, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Platform for Action and the Sustainable Development Goals was suffering though all had been signed/ratified by Ghana.
“The Center acknowledges the marginal increase in female representation in the 8th Parliament which is at approximately 15 percent from the previous figure of approximately 13 percent in the 7th Parliament,” the statement said.
“This figure is the highest so far under the Fourth Republic and represents a doubling of female representation during the first Parliament in 1992.”
It noted that despite this improvement, more commitment was needed to enable the country achieve equality not only in Parliament, but at all levels in governance structure by addressing the deep seated patriarchal norms which influenced perceptions of women’s capabilities and roles, high cost of election campaign, intra-party discrimination against women, socio-cultural factors which impeded the full participation of women in public life and decision making levels including poor policy implementation and lack of policies that promoted equality and equity.
The statement said as an important step to overcoming the barriers, CDD-Ghana reiterated calls for government to urgently lay the over a decade old Affirmative Action Bill before Parliament for its review and immediate passage.
It said the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill presented great opportunity for the country to benefit from the contribution of more than half of its population and would significantly promote equality in participation and representation in decision making processes.
The statement reminded government that for Ghana to achieve the vision of leaving no one behind in the pursuit of inclusive and sustainable development as propounded in Agenda 2030, more decisive action was needed to ensure inclusive, effective and democratic participation of all citizens.
“The only means to end the stark realities on the ground with respect to the continued and entrenched gender disparities and inequalities in almost all areas of our national life is to see the realization of Article 35 (6),” it added.
It encouraged all Ghanaian women to #ChooseToChallenge and call out gender bias and inequalities hindering their access and participation in leadership.
The statement said all advocates for gender equity, especially Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) should not relent in their efforts, but intensify their advocacy campaign towards the successful passage of the Affirmative Action Bill to help deepen Ghana’s democracy, which must be inclusive of all.