Ghana Is Committed To Attaining MDG3

Mrs Benita Okity-DuahThe Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Benita Okity-Duah, has stressed on the need for reports of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), to be included in the monthly reports from health centres, for monitoring purposes.

She said the country was committed to the realisation of the Millennium Development Goal Three (MDG3), which addresses the promotion of gender equality.

Speaking at a workshop in Accra last Thursday onA the United Nations (UN) Resolution 67/146 on Female Genital Mutilation, oArganised by the Ghanaian Association for Women’s Welfare (GAWW), she said the country had an ever-present prospect for eliminating FGM.

She noted that there should be more education through the primary health care programme and the use of community health personnel, in door-to-door contact campaigns.

“Alternative initiative ceremonies should be introduced and the law on the elimination of FGM should be vigorously marketed by district assemblies and unit committees so there will be better community responses, “she stated.
Mrs. Okity-Duah said there should be frequent consultative fora involving all stakeholders, to discuss at length strategies for the domestication and implementation of the UN Resolution 67/146 and all other domestic laws relevant for the elimination of the FGM.

Women in the country, she said, continued to face abuse and violation of their fundamental rights, adding that many women in rural areas, remain subject to traditional male dominance and harmful practices.

She said the country had ratified international conventions on gender and human rights including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality, to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“Ghana has embarked on many programmes, developed policies and formulated laws that address gender issues prevailing in the country, in order to fulfill its international and national obligations”, she said.

Mrs. Okity-Duah urged stakeholders to refocus attention on the human rights and development issues of women and children in the country and support the implementation of comprehensive and integrated strategies for the prevention of FGM.

The Executive Director of GAWW, Mrs. Florence Ali, said the UN General Assembly in its 67th Session unanimously adopted Resolution 67/146, entitled “Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of FGM”.

She said the resolution, was as a result of several years of lobbying and advocacy by the Inter-African Committee (IAC) on harmful traditional practices affecting women and children and its partners.

“FGM is a dangerous and degrading surgical procedure that women and girls are made to endure in the name of tradition”, she stated.

The procedure involved the total or partial removal of the external female genital organs she said, adding that the practice was a manifestation of deep-rooted gender inequality that assigned women an inferior position in society and had profound physical and social consequences.

Findings by UNICEF, according to her, revealed that 125 million girls and women are in the world have undergone FGM and approximately three million girls and women at a risk of being subjected to the mutilation every year.
Mrs. Ali noted that the practice, which was prevalent in 29 African countries, including Ghana, was increasing instead of reducing.

FGM, she said, had not received the attention it needed in the country and had been left in the hands of poorly resourced organisations to contend with.

The United Nation’s (UN) Country Coordinator for Women, Ms. Afua Ansre, for her part said, her outfit had put in place the necessary mechanisms to help mitigate harsh experiences that women and children were subjected to under the pretence of culture and religion.

She that the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women together, with the necessary procedures put in place, would go a long way to protect and promote the rights of women and children.

She said the adoption of the Rights of Women in West Africa in Maputo on 11 July 2013 by the African Charter among other decisions by the African Union, was a significant milestone towards the abandonment and ending of FGM.

Mrs. Ansre, emphasized on the report of the Secretary-General, on ending FGM, which suggested ways of overcoming it.
She said the report emphasised on the need to empower women and girls, with a call on state agencies to strengthen advocacy and awareness-raising programmes, to address the harmful practices women and girls go through.

The report, according to her, urged all law enforcement agencies including the health sector as well as religious leaders and the media, to help eliminate the practice.

She urged all stakeholders to help develop policies and regulations that would ensure effective implementation of national legislative framework on eliminating and discriminating against women and girls.

A High Court Registrar, Mrs Cynthia Bentil, for her part, said the amended Criminal Code 1960 Act 29, Section 69A states; Whoever carries out Female Genital Mutilation and excised infibulates or otherwise mutilates the whole or any part of the labia minora, majora and the clitoris of another person commits an offence, and is liable to summary conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than five and not more than ten years”. –  Christabel Akoto-Manu & Edem Mensah-Tsotorme









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