Groups gather inputs for Affirmative Action Bill

oyeTHE Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection on Saturday opened a two-day validation workshop, which aimed at creating the platform to gather inputs of civil society towards the preparation of the Affirmative Action Bill.

The purpose of the draft bill is to promote the full and active participation of women in public life by providing for a more equitable representation in electoral politics and governance, in accordance with Ghana’s international and constitutional obligations and national development aspirations.

In her address Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said in Ghana, gender inequality had been an issue.

She said despite the fact that Dr Kwame Nkrumah, being the first African President to adopt and pass an affirmative action bill, Ghana had struggled to ensure that there were a reasonable and equitable representation of women across board in public life.

She explained that when the 1992 constitution was being considered, the issue was identified by a consultative group of experts, hence there was an opportunity to consider affirmative action for certain marginalised groups.

“Unfortunately that recommendation was not taken up,” she said.

Nana Oye Lithur said throughout Ghana’s elections from 1954, the country had not attained 10 per cent representation of women in parliament.

She said currently the representation of women had gone beyond 10 per cent, as compared to the expected 30 per cent prescribed by the United Nations.

The minister said the bill went beyond women in politics, and covers other sectors including the security services, justice sector and trade unions.

She said the ministry would ensure that it was able to put into effect the direct principles of state policy, since Article 35 states that there should be a reasonable gender and regional balance.

The gender minister expressed appreciation to the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, an international non-governmental organisation devoted to promoting security, social democracy and economic development, for sponsoring the event, as well as the national technical working group and other stakeholders for their efforts towards the preparation of the draft affirmation action bill.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, the minister said the government, in its manifesto, pledged to increase the number of women in public life, and as part of the efforts the President had appointed eight women to cabinet.

She said the ministry had had fruitful engagement with the security service, justice sector, the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice, so there is the need to engage with civil society organisations and critical stakeholders comprising queen mothers, non-governmental organisations, and religious bodies all over the country.

She explained that, all these efforts were geared towards strengthening and increasing the number of women in governance.

On Wednesday, November 19, the ministry would meet with Parliament’s Joint Committee on Gender, and Constitutional and Legal Affairs, to finalise the draft bill to be submitted to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice before it is presented to cabinet for approval.

Mrs Sheila Minka-Premo, facilitator of the workshop, said the purpose of the bill is to address gender imbalance in social, economic and educational life in Ghana in accordance with Article 17(4).

The Gender Ministry’s work towards the submission of Affirmative Action draft bill to Parliament is part of efforts aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 for sustainable national development. – GNA

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