Int. Women’s Day: What Gender Minister Otiko said in Parliament

THE RIGHT HON. SPEAKER,

THE HON. MAJORITY LEADER AND MINISTER OF PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS,

THE HON. MINORITY LEADER,

HON. MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT.

 

The Ministry on behalf of all women in Ghana is grateful for the opportunity given to us to address this Honourable House on 2018 International Women’s Day (IWD).

The IWD is celebrated on March 8 every year. The Day is set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women, past, present and future and most significantly to draw the world’s attention to areas requiring further action, and the need to accelerate gender parity.

The commemoration of IWD is further to remind government, policy makers and stakeholders of their key roles in translating the theme into reality and the need to rally support for women towards a common goal of ensuring their empowerment.

The 2018 global theme for the IWD is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activities transforming women’s lives”. To reflect in Ghana’s situation, We have adopted a national theme:”#WomenToo – Press for Progress as Game Changers in Development”. The two themes seek to highlight the need to empower women in all settings to play active role in up lifting women from poverty and to be change agents in their own development.

Be Bold for change, was the global slogan for the 2017 IWD. The celebration focus on the theme “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality”. Using this as our guide for the year 2017, the Ministry has strived through its programmes to empower women, improved legal and policy framework to protect women and capacity building of vulnerable women to cater for themselves and their families. The Ministry launched the He-For-She initiative to identify male ambassadors to pledge and commit to working towards gender equality, support the Affirmative Action Bill and promote the President’s agenda as African Union Gender Champion and Sustainable Development Goal Co-Chair. The Ministry worked tirelessly to finalize and submit for Cabinet approval the Affirmative Action Bill. The climax of the 2017 Sixteen Days of Activism was climaxed with a community durbar in AssinAdadeitem (where a 4 year old girl was defiled) to raise awareness on the negative effect of sexual based-violence just to mention a few. 

Mr. Speaker, Democracy is about numbers and equity. The Participation of women in democracy is basic to governance in democracy. Women have become dynamic leaders of transformation, Ghana 61 years after Independence. Globally, women’s involvement in civil liberties, building communities and providing protection at various situations is widely acknowledged.

However, more needs to be done in the area of leadership both in government, the private sector and in urban and rural Ghana. Women contribute significantly to the growth and economic development of every country and yet their efforts are often less appreciated in national development.

In Ghana, the situation of women is not different. The Economy of Ghana thrives largely on the informal sector which is dominated by women. This sector is characterized by inadequate regulatory frameworks and higher risks, making women poor and vulnerable.

It is admitted generally that, there have been significant improvement in Ghana in the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as attitudinal shift in society.  However, there are still complex issues concerning male dominance and patriarchy that need to be addressed in order to step up efforts towards achieving sustainable development.

The average Ghanaian seems to hold unto the belief that, women are still just meant for child bearing and cooking and the shift is apparent in Parliament where out of 275 MPs, only 37 are female representing 13%.

Mr. Speaker, girls are not in school, defilement of girls and boys are ongoing, rape, teachers impregnating girls, teenage pregnancy, child prostitution, child marriage, burning and maltreatment of alleged witches, wife beating and violence against women, abusing women and by exposing them on social media-rape. Unpaid work, kayayei trafficking still prevail in our society today.

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) since its inception, has shown commitment regarding the adoption of vigorous policies and programmes to overcome gender inequality and women’s empowerment in Ghana.  A lot of institutional, administrative and legal reforms have been initiated, including the promotion of Gender Mainstreaming in all governing processes.  These have included Gender responsive budgeting in respective MDAs and enactment of a Domestic Violence law which criminalizes harmful cultural practices.  The Ministry is also pushing strongly for Ghana to pass an Affirmative Action Bill, Review of the Interstate Succession Law, Property Rights of Spouses Bill and other relevant laws to better promote and protect the rights of women.

Mr. Speaker, my predecessors have come to Parliament since the creation of the Ministry of women and children in 2001 to talk about women’s challenges and threats, when Ghana is going to walk the talk. We need to take action now to ensure the empowerment and participation of women at all levels. Parliament commitment to the promotion of women’s right will be the speedy passage of the Affirmative Action Bill when laid before the House.

Mr. Speaker, The commemoration of International Women’s Day therefore presents an opportunity to actively engage women not only at the National level but most importantly those in the rural communities whose plight is worse because of their circumstances.

This year’s celebration seeks to provide a platform to take stock of contribution, achievements and successes chalked by rural and urban women and also deliberate on their struggles and challenges as it relates to breaking the barriers of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Ghana. This year’s celebration has the following objectives:

  • To identify and take stock of the status of women in Ghana
  • To provide a platform that focuses on needs of rural and urban women in the changing world of work.
  • To rally more support to accelerate the process towards the achievement of gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment with respect to the achievement of the SDGs and the Beijing Declaration.

The celebration was launched on 1st March, 2018 with a press briefing on the significance of the IWD. An inter-school debates on the topic “Behind Every Successful woman, there is a Man#WomenToo Press for Progress Walk was organized yesterday, 7th March, 2018 to create awareness on the need for the empowerment of women especially the rural woman. I am happy to inform this august House that the Ministry together with its partners were able to organize more than 1000 women to take part in this highly successful event. A diner dance will be held tomorrow 9th March, 2018 at Movenpick Hotel to raise funds to support our initiative dubbed “Operation Get off the Street Now for a Better Life”. You are all cordially invited to support this good cause.

Mr. Speaker, as we celebrate the IWD, we take this opportunity to congratulate all women in Ghana for their contribution so far in national development and the empowerment of women in Ghana. We encourage all women to begame changers in development where ever they find themselves. We urge the support of the men and boys as He-For-She Ambassadors and campaigners.

The challenges of women and their development is not a women’s issue but a national agenda that should be addressed for the achievement of the accelerated development of our dear Ghana our motherland.

Over half of our population is women and the rest is born by women so women cannot wait and the time is now for #WomenToo Press for Progress Change.

Long live Women and Girls of Ghana

Long live Ghana

 

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