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Women Urged to Work Towards Peaceful Elections

Even though government has put measures in place to ensure gender equality and women empowerment, their status has not changed when it comes to representation in political offices hence, likelihood for further reduction of women in Parliament come 2013 making Ghana part of countries in Africa with bad records on women?s representation.

Women's organisations has therefore been urged to strategize their activities and maintain the peace of the nation throughout the processes of Election 2012 while they up their activities towards increasing their representation in politics and decision-making to ensure gender equity.

As women's rights organisations, especially in Africa, we are very much aware of what vulnerabilities women and girls are exposed to in any kind of unrest, therefore, we must dedicate some serious time to peace initiatives from the grassroots to the national level.

The Chief Executive Officer of Ark Foundation, Ms. Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, made these observations in Accra when reviewing the Status of Women in 2011 across the globe under the auspices of the Network for Women's Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT). Highlighting events from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe that impacted on women's lives in a 20-page report, she described the year as interesting with some significant gains at both home and abroad but generally not far reaching because no society treats its women equally as its men.

According to her, working successfully to sustain the national peace and the achievement of gender parity, required commitment, time, resources, high level organisation, creative and cost effective programming and on the spot advocacy.

She, therefore, advised women?s rights organisations to find creative ways to form relationships and partnerships with faith-based women?s groups such as AGLOW and Muslim Women's Associations; Women in Academia; Women in the Arts and young women in general towards achieving their goals.

The Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda 2010 Report on Women in Public Life indicates that Women Ministers constituted 21 per cent; Deputy Ministers 20 per cent; Members of Parliament nine per cent; Metroplitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives seven per cent and Chief Directors 24 per cent.

The Report also put the representation of women judges on the Supreme Court at 29 per cent; 25 per cent at the High Court, while women appointed to district assemblies was 7.3 per cent with their elected counterparts being 11 percent.

Mrs. Dwamena-Aboagye said in view of the limited successes chalked in this field despite the relentless advocacy and education over the years, women's groups were counting on their proposals to the Constitutional Review Commission for the 1992 Constitution.

These included the establishment of a Gender Equality Commission, adoption of a quota of at least 30 per cent representation of women in political and public life and the elimination of discrimination against women in the fields of employment and education.

Mrs. Dwamena-Aboagye was pessimistic about the prospect of increasing women's participation in Parliament in 2013. She was, however, hopeful that 2016 could be a different story should an Affirmative Action Law be promulgated.

She urged women's groups to also focus on research and intense advocacy on especially issues such as human trafficking, women facing mental health problems, girls being forced into marriages, women accused of witchcraft in traditional camps and women with disabilities and widows and poverty.

She also called on the Civil Society not to wait to see the inclusion of women in political appointments by the incoming government but rather start the advocacy mow as the elections draw near.

Mr Andrews Tetteh, a volunteer lawyer, who has handled hundreds of women?s legal aid issues for free at the Ark Foundation?s Legal Centre, was honoured with a citation and a certificate by NETRIGHT. Many other individuals and organisations were praised for their support for women?s advancement.

NETRIGHT is a coalition of about 54 organisations and more than 150 individuals across the country, working together to promote gender dimensions of national policies and processes and advocating for policy change.

Date Updated: 23 January 2012 - Source: www.allafrica.com

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