Ghana on Sunday joined the world in commemorating International Women’s Day, an annual event held on March 8 to celebrate the achievements of women in social, economic, political and cultural life towards making the world a better place for all.
The event, which has been observed since 1911, is also used to rekindle the struggle for gender parity and women’s empowerment. Many events — including an inter-schools debate, awards programs, stakeholder meetings and conferences — were held to mark the occasion.
At the launch of the celebration in Accra, Cynthia Mamle Morrison, minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, recounted Ghana’s efforts at promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
These, she said, had been achieved through institutional, administrative, social protection and legal reforms , including the promotion of gender mainstreaming in all governing processes.
Gender-responsive budgeting in the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDs), as well as the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programs, were all geared towards gender equality.
“The generation of the equality campaign demands equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and all forms of violence against women and girls, health care services that respond to the needs of women, and equal participation in political life and decision-making in all areas of life,” she said.
Morrison said the United Nations Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 had been the most visionary platform for the empowerment of women and girls.
The Beijing Platform for Action was adopted by 189 governments committed to taking a strategic view of 12 critical areas of concern which were poverty, education and training, health, violence, among others.
“Today, not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality. Multiple obstacles remain unchanged in law and culture,” Morrison said.
On the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, this year’s celebration is also being used to review the achievements and forge ahead.
The minister said women remain undervalued, explaining, “They continue to work more, earn less, have fewer choices and experience multiple forms of violence at home and in public spaces.”
She underlined the gains made towards achieving gender parity in the educational sector, which she said had resulted in an increase in women’s participation in the decision-making levels of public life. However, there was still a lot of work to be done to achieve the U.N.’s minimum threshold of 30 percent of women’s representation in decision-making organs in all spheres of public life.
Strategies to actualize this, Morrison said, included the enactment of an Affirmative Action Bill, facilitate enactment of Domestic Violence Act and a Human Trafficking Act, she said.
The Ministry had also been engaging with stakeholders, such as traditional and religious authorities, to eliminate diverse issues of harmful cultural practices that undermined the rights of women and girls.