The role of Ghana’s Public Service in women’s empowerment…Challenges and prospects

l   Affirmative action across a broad front to remove the continuing obstacles to the career progression of women, as well as redress a historic imbalance in recruitment, placement, training and staff development and promotion is required

l Affirmative action across a broad front to remove the continuing obstacles to the career progression of women, as well as redress a historic imbalance in recruitment, placement, training and staff development and promotion is required

Education is the foundation for development; yet, some Ghanaian women are unable to go to school to acquire educational and professional qualifications, and therefore, disadvantaged at every point of the public administrative system, because of negative socio-economic factors.

In general, societal prejudice tends to limit the scope of educational and professional training open to women. Many women tend to follow the traditional expected pattern of acquiring sufficient general education to be able to relate with their educated husbands, bring up their children and obtain employment compatible with their traditional roles.

In Ghana, men have an advantage in access, to resources, such as capital, land, entrepreneurial skills and other factors of production. Apart from education, these resources provide the ability that men can use to add value to themselves more easily than women. Moreover, comparatively, women are unable to challenge their male counterparts effectively in such public life positions as in the field of politics because of lack of funding.

There has been growing consensus building among key stakeholders on the need to empower women in the public service, to enhance optimum deployment and utilisation of human resources for effective and efficient service delivery to the citizenry.

This has manifested in several legislative, policy and programme initiatives introduced and implemented by succeeding governments over the years with active collaboration of civil society organisations and development partners.

These have in no doubt resulted in significant improvement in the advancement of gender-equality in Ghana. However, there is the need to tackle a number of structural, legal and socio-economic and cultural barriers, to build on and consolidate the gains made so far.

It behoves the government, management of Public Service Organisations, parents, teachers and civil society organisations to come together and to ensure the empowerment of women towards national development, to give meaning to the celebration of Public Service Day.

As usually practiced worldwide, patriarchy gives ascendancy to men in authority and decision-making in and outside the home. It is important that these male-centred structures are softened, to ensure equal access to decision-making positions in public administration.

Government, parents and teachers should ensure that egalitarian principles form the basis of early socialisation of children. This can be achieved through mass mobilisation campaign about the need to break traditional attitudes and stereotypes of women’s roles and inequality with men. The role of the media and religious organisations is crucial in achieving this goal.

While affirmative action approach should be promoted, women should put their best foot forward as power cannot be given to women on a platter of gold. Women, particularly the activists among them, should influence public policies in favour of women so that they can compete with men for political positions.

Researchers should collaborate with women activists to engage not only in beneficial studies that touch the lives of ordinary women, but also achieve curriculum reform in the universities, which can assist in breaking the gender stereotypes in society.

Government should encourage public sector managers to provide support   for women employees, aside concerted efforts that need to be made to meet the rapidly increased demands for day nurseries for working mothers. Data Bank Ghana Limited has set the pace of a good example by establishing a day care facility in its premises for the staff.

The few women top public administrators need to exhibit positive role modeling to encourage up-coming women. They should use their positions in the organisational hierarchy to promote personnel policies that will enhance access of other women to employment and top management positions in the public sector.

Heads of public sector agencies need to be mobilised to raise their consciousness and enlist their support to remove gender discrimination in employment and promotion. This can be achieved through sponsored workshops to raise awareness on this vital group.

Achieving strategies of redressing gender imbalance in public administration will be contingent upon the effective delivery, monitoring and review of active policies to redress the shortcomings in the current positions experienced by women in public administration.

Affirmative action across a broad front to remove the continuing obstacles to the career progression of women as well as redress a historic imbalance in recruitment, placement, training and staff development and promotion is required.

Active consideration should be given to the introduction of mentoring arrangement within and between departments or offices. An experience sharing approach whereby junior women are paired with some most senior women to bring out hidden talents within the junior women, to increase the representation of women at senior levels, should be encouraged.

This can be done through networking events for both sets of partners in development workshops, which can gain and increase self-confidence and a deeper insight into how government works at senior levels.

Media plays a critical role in perpetuating and breaking stereotypes, and the image of women in the media is a critical issue for advancing the gender equality agenda. The media, should, therefore, be involved in promoting gender equality and women’s rights agenda.

Government should embed gender issues in mainstream governance, management and policy processes. Indeed, institutional mechanisms to develop gender-sensitive policies and government accountability for closing the gender gap are critical for advancing gender equality

There is the need for the authorities to adopt a coordinated approach to promoting gender equality, and mainstreaming gender issues into all stages of policy making and service delivery cycles. This calls for successful development and implementation of broader policies towards the promotion of gender equality across all policy sectors such as employment, education, entrepreneurship, housing and access to finance

Notwithstanding efforts to empower women, they must take steps as individuals to get ahead of hurdles, demand the necessary supplementary training and education and to make sure that they are not permanently excluded from career advancement.

By Magdalene Kannae (Mrs)

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