Today January 20, 2022

Women in media urged to lead advocacy for Affirmative Action Bill passage

Accra,- Women in the media have been urged to lead the advocacy for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill to bring the desired change of eliminating discrimination and providing equal opportunities for women and men in decision-making.

“Stakeholders like women, who are in the majority and are so powerful, can lead this crusade and bring the change we so yearn for in the next few years to defeat poverty,” Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, the Executive Director, Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), has noted.

He said this during an engagement with women in the media, on the theme: “The Affirmative Action Bill and Women’s Participation in Local Governance,” in Accra.

Dr Akwetey said Ghana, in the last 30 years, did not have strong institutions of state to see to the implementation of the constitutional provisions that sought to regulate activities of political parties and ensure they served the people and not their own interests.

He called for the implementation of the Constitution Review Committee’s 97 proposals for amendment, which included constitutional, legal, institutional and human capacity development reforms, to create a more enabling framework for political parties to participate in local government as well as in the Executive arm of government.

“The anticipated reforms will improve the political and security environment for the 2024 presidential and parliamentary elections and launch a new framework of more accountable and developmental governance in the next 30 years of the Fourth Republic,” Dr Akwetey said.

Ghana must support more women to stand for elections at the district assembly level to ensure a higher number participated in local governance, he said.

The country must also ensure a multiparty rule where different political parties are involved in governance at the grassroots; the local governance level, ‘’and this is where women must be supported with an established fund to take up positions as they aspire to the higher levels of decision making,’’ he said.

“The Constitution speaks categorically in Chapter Six against discrimination and identifies our citizenship as the basic identity. But our politics is discriminatory because instead of practicing multiparty democracy, we engage in partisan politics, which breeds monitisation, polarisation and exclusion.”

Dr Akwetey was of the view that the Executive arm of government, including local government, must be reformed and strengthened to build a country with stable multiparty politics and democracy, where women were progressively empowered to actively participate in public life.

He said IDEG was committed to supporting women in the media to improve clarity in understanding issues on affirmative action so they could articulate them better in their efforts to educate the public to get the desired change.

“Let’s educate the public to know that they have the power to change the system to work in their favour and must not leave it in the hands of the two dominant political parties and make their decisions the precondition of our success,’’ he said.

Mrs Sheila Minkah-Premo, the Convenor of the Affirmative Action Bill Coalition, said research showed a gender imbalance in many spheres of life in Ghana and the Bill sought to “right the wrongs” of gender discrimination.

According to the 2021 Population and Housing Census, females constitute 50.7 per cent of Ghana’s population, and males 49.3 per cent, but the ratio of women to men in Parliament and district assemblies is low.

Out of the 275-member Parliament, only 40 are women, which is 14.45 per cent, she said, adding; “This places Ghana at the 139th position on the Inter-Parliamentary Union World Classification.”

Mrs Minkah-Premo said Ghana needed to take a cue from other African countries, which were doing well in terms of women representation in Parliament, including Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia and Guinea.

She said current information on the Affirmative Action Bill indicated that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection had updated the 2020 Bill and a 2021 version sent to Cabinet for approval before it is laid in Parliament, but that had been in Cabinet since May, 2021.

“This session of Parliament is expecting the Bill to be laid before it, but as things are there will need to be a push to get this done,” Mrs Minkah-Premo said, and called for the support of the media to enhance the advocacy to achieve that agenda.

Mr Kwesi Jonah, Senior Research Fellow, IDEG, said the passage of the Bill should not be seen as a favour for women, but a collective responsibility, especially by leadership, to ensure equal representation of women in decision-making for sustainable development.

The participants, drawn from both the public and private media, advocated the need to tame monitisation of politics as it deters women from participating and proposed the establishment of a fund to support women’s activities in the public space.

Source: Ghana News Agency



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