A campaign calling on government to fast-track the laying of the Affirmative Action Bill (AAB) before parliament and passing it into law was launched in Accra yesterday.
Affirmative Action is a mechanism or policy which seeks to remove discrimination, improve the rights and socio-political progress of non-dominant groups who are historically disadvantaged.
Launching it, Ms Afua Chidi, communications leader at the Child Research and Resource Centre (CRRECENT), a civil society organisation, said many African countries including Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi and Guinea Bissau, who started the Affirmative Action journey later than Ghana had passed the bill and started implementing it with impressive progress.
She explained that Guinea-Bissau passed their gender equality law and subsequently appointed 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men to cabinet positions, adding that other African countries had also demonstrated how their government’s had been responsible and committed to ensuring gender equality within their political spaces.
Ms Chidi mentioned that Rwanda, a country that emerged out of a devastated civil war topped the world chart of women’s representation in parliament with 49 out of an 80-member parliament, representing 61.25 per cent.
These, according to Ms Chidi, were achieved through deliberate and committed affirmative actions by the states, having recognised the inherent potentials of both genders.
She said the passage of the bill into law would accelerate Ghana’s effort of meeting the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 target of gender parity in decision making by 2030 and the African Union (AU) gender agenda of 50-50 representation of both men and women in decision making.
Also, women’s representation in public service, independent constitutional bodies and political parties, she said, would be greatly enhanced.
Ms Chidi expressed worry about the little action taken to address the systematic inequalities that prevented women from being part of the decision-making processes in the country despite several promises and assurances politicians make in election years.
“Our call today is simple, the Minister for Gender Children and Social Protection, representing the President of Ghana and the entire executive should lay the AAB before parliament as soon as parliament resumed from recess.
“The President of Ghana being the AU gender champion, should double his efforts towards achieving these targets by passing the Affirmative Action into an Act,” she stressed.
According to Ms Chidi, Ghana had the required technical and resource capacity to have concluded, passed and implemented the bill, saying current and past government had not prioritised the AAB.
She bemoaned that political will was seriously lacking and commitment to gender equality had become rhetoric.
Mr Frank Wilson Bodza, programmes manager for Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), on his part urged the media to join the advocacy for the passage and full implementation of the AAB, adding that it was not only about women.
“The media should also join this fight by promoting gender equality on their platforms,” he said.
Mr Bodza was of the conviction that the campaign would be sustained until the bill was passed.
BY RAISSA SAMBOU AND DEBORA ASUMA