Women’s issue essential to development

Accra, Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye, the Speaker of Parliament, has called for the understanding of women right issues, saying it is essential to development.

He has, therefore, demanded that one third of parliamentary seats be reserved for women especially when women political representation in the country had been poor over the years and had challenged them to seek first the political kingdom.

We cannot pride ourselves in such a miserable situation because other African countries are ahead of us, Prof Oquaye said at the Affirmative Action Bill (AAB) Stakeholders Review Meeting held in Accra on Tuesday.

He said Affirmative Action was a legal curative for development and that the bill should not only be another document or another point of reference but rather measures that would deal with women issues drastically.

Let the bill be a guide to further action, he advised.

Prof Oquaye therefore urged participants to think outside the box in their engagements to come out with drastic curative actions that would promote women’s right as well as gender equality in the country.

The two-day stakeholders meeting brought together gender activists to discuss, share and exchange ideas on how best the AAB could be reviewed for Parliament’s approval and passage accordingly.

Mr Louis Kuukpen, the Assistant Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said much had been achieved over the past decades, however, a lot more needed to be done to address the gaps in women’s access to decision making, particularly in the African sub-region.

He said: Available evidence show that Africa as a continent has made significant stride in women political participation, however, same cannot be said about Ghana.

Mr Kuukpen noted that inter-Parliamentary Union in January, ranked Rwanda highest in the World in women representation in national parliament with around 61.3 per cent women parliamentarians.

Senegal and South Africa have also shown remarkable progress with 42.7 per cent and 40.0 per cent this ranks them in 7th and 10th positions.

Unfortunately, women representation in Ghana’s Parliament is still quite low and must be improved especially when Ghana ranks 140 in the global chart with as low as 35 women parliamentarians out of 275, he said.

According to Mr Kuukpen this was particularly ironic given that women constitute about 51.2 per cent of the total population.

He urged leaders to work towards ensuring that women were represented in Ghana’s social and economic life.

Ms Otiko Afisa Djaba, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, speaking at the event charged stakeholders to provide the necessary input because the bill would enable the country redress on all in the imbalances.

She said the role of gender in national development cannot be underestimated and urged stakeholders to ensure that their input would put women side by side in the development process.

This would help women and men, boys and girls and the marginalised have a voice and effectively take part in the decision making, she stated.

She said though past governments have put in place measures to have the Affirmative Action Bill passed, the meeting was necessary as it would revise and allow for the re-submission to parliament.

Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, the Former First Lady, said there was the need for all seriousness to be attached to the bill because the country would not go anywhere if women are continuously left behind.

Politics and policies have nothing to do with growing beard so women can as well run affairs and take decisions, she said.

The Affirmative Action Bill seeks the representation and participation of women in governance, public positions of power and decision making.

Source: Ghana News Agency