A Sensitisation forum to solicit support for the passage of the Affirmative Action (Gender Equality) Legislation Bill has been held in Accra, with participants pledging to see the bill promulgated before the current parliament expires.
The bill, which has received Cabinet approval and is awaiting parliamentary consent, aims at ensuring that at least 40 per cent of women are in leadership positions across all the sectors of the economy.
Among the attendees were political parties, civil society organizations and the media among other interest groups.
While the media is expected to highlight the aspects of the bill through their publications, the political parties are supposed to apply the bill, if passed into law, to provide a level playing field for women so as to create a balanced society.
The bill seeks to promote the active and full participation of women in public life, by providing a more equitable system of representation in electoral policies and governance in accordance with Ghana’s constitutional and international obligations.
It also provides a framework to help eliminate discrimination on the basis that each citizen shares equal right to self-development and that, women with equal abilities should have equal opportunities without any hindrances.
With 40 clauses, the bill seeks to provide gender equity across governance, political leadership positions, private sector, traditional authorities and other spheres of the national economy.
Opening the forum yesterday the Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Mrs. Della Sowah, said government remained committed to the passage of the bill, which has been on the shelve since 1998, into law.
In her view, the low representation of women in national decision- making was as a result of cultural belief of the citizenry, which had led to stigmatization, keeping many competent women from taking up positions.
The deputy minister said “The law will rectify historical wrongdoings by mandating that certain opportunities be made available to those distinguished by gender, minority or those under-presented in society”, she stressed and called on stakeholders to ensure the law was adhered to if passed.
Mrs. Comfort Addo, the acting Director, Department of Gender, said the mere inclusion of the 40 per cent as required by the law was insufficient to guarantee gender parity in Ghana’s governance and corporate circles.
“We must make real effort and make this a law that should any government, political party, district assembly, or even a private firm fails to have 40 per cent of women in their fold, then they can be taken on”, she said adding “the time is now to address the gender imbalance in our society.”
The Moderator of the forum, Ms. Joana Opare, on noted that increasing women participation and representation in governance was “arguably the foundation on which other gender related issues would be built.”
She said if that was done, the fight against the marginalisation of minority groups in society would be subdued and asked that people rejected the notion that gender issues only had to do with women.
By Julius Yao Petetsi & Lisanne Dornoff