NETRIGHT: State must create enabling environment for women

PThe Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), says, for a change to occur in Ghanaian women and girls, the state and its agencies must fulfil constitutional, regional and international commitments to gender equality, and regularly report on progress to citizens.

According to the network, the conditions of marginalised or disadvantaged groups, including women, could never be improved solely through their own efforts, no matter how dynamic they might be.

This is contained in a statement issued jointly by NETRIGHT Convenor, Pauline Vande-Pallen and Programme Manager, Patricia Blankson Akakpo copied to the Ghanaian Times, in reaction to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s  comment at the recently ended ‘Women Deliver Conference’ in Vancouver, Canada.

“Systemic barriers and structures of male privilege and dominance maintain the status quo, and undermine the ability of women to realise their potential. In contemporary thinking, it is recognised that states have an obligation to create the enabling environment for all citizens to thrive and contribute to development.

“States such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa and Senegal, provide examples of political will and leadership on women’s representation and participation in decision-making. This is in contrast to the situation in Ghana, where women continue to lag behind in many sectors of public life and decision-making,” it added.

The statement said Ghanaian women “have a long and continuing history of political activism and participation in public life and the struggle for a democratic nation. Over the years, women’s activism has led to the creation of numerous and diverse groups that have advocated and worked hard across Ghana to improve the lives of women and girls”.

“NETRIGHT has supported and worked to increase women’s representation and effectiveness in district assemblies, in parliament and in public life. We were deeply involved in the constitutional review process, and have worked with successive governments to push for the passage of Affirmative Action legislation, the Property Rights of Spouses Bill, and the review of the Intestate Succession Law, all of which are still before Parliament.

“Together with other coalitions such as the Women’s Manifesto Coalition, and the Domestic Violence Coalition, we played the critical role in the passage of domestic violence legislation and the development of the Women’s Manifesto.

“As far back as 2004, the Women’s Manifesto called for increase representation and participation of women in decision-making and demanded that the legislature become 30 per cent female by 2008 and 50 per cent female by 2012!

“It also called for the equal participation of women in the leadership of political parties. Copies of the Manifesto were presented to parliament and political parties,” it added.

The statement said sadly, there had been little progress towards these targets, adding, “As of 2019, women’s representation in Parliament remains at an abysmal 13.7 per cent and women constitutes only 18.55per cent of all ministerial appointments.”

It expressed dissatisfaction that “For the first time since its creation, the Gender Ministry no longer has cabinet status. Sexual and gender-based violence remains a big problem, notwithstanding the existence of the Domestic Violence Act, and budgetary allocations for effective implementation of the law is low.”

“We are working with various stakeholders, including traditional leaders and communities, to address structural barriers facing women in the access, control and ownership of land, including agricultural land.

“Our work is strengthening women’s capacities in land governance through the establishment of community land development committees, the development of land tenancy agreement templates to facilitate proper documentation of land tenure security.

“We want to ensure that the Land Bill, when passed, will protect the interests and rights of women and the vulnerable in society,” the statement added.

The network has about 100 civil society organisations and over 300 individuals.

By Times Reporter

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