Political parties and the media have been urged to support efforts at passing the Affirmative Action (AA) Bill, also referred to as Gender Equality Bill, into law.


Mrs Dela Sowah, Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, who made the call in an address at a sensitization workshop for political parties and the media on the AA Bill in Accra, yesterday, disclosed that the Bill had received cabinet approval and was expected to be laid before Parliament for passage into law.


Mrs Sowah traced the history of efforts to correct gender imbalance from independence to the present government.


She disclosed that former President Rawlings had laid the foundation, through a cabinet directive in 1998, to provide a set of guidelines for the systematic and sustained implementation of the various aspects of Affirmative Action towards equality of the rights and opportunities of women in Ghana.


She said President Mahama had actually moved Affirmative Action from rhetoric to cabinet approval and oversaw the development of a Gender Policy to ensure that gender issues were mainstreamed into Ghana’s development agenda.


Mrs Sowah, therefore, stressed the need for key partners, regardless of political orientations and affiliations, to join hands to ensure that the Bill was passed into law.


In a welcome address, the Acting Director of the Department of Gender, Dr Comfort Asare, explained that the 1998 cabinet directive had called for at least 40 per cent representation of women in appointments to the public service, committees and boards.


Dr Asare said in 2011, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in collaboration with stakeholders, undertook a series of consultations to ensure that disparities between males and females were addressed, adding that the sensitization workshop was part of the journey for the development of the AA Bill sensitizing key partners on the bill and for rallying support for the passage of the bill into law.


Mrs Joana Opare, a gender consultant and member of the Committee that prepared the Bill Drafting instructions, in her remarks, reiterated the need for political parties and the media to contribute their quota to ensure that the Bill became law.


Mrs Opare also urged men to lend their support to efforts at getting the Bill passed into law.


In a presentation on the AA Bill, Mrs Hillary Gbedemah, a Lawyer and Gender Consultant, who is also Ghana’s representative on the Advisory Board of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), said AA Bill was premised on Article 17 of the 1992 Republican Constitution of Ghana.


Furthermore, Mrs Gbedemah said Ghana had an obligation under General recommendation No. 28 on the core obligations of States parties under article 2 of CEDAW to condemn discrimination against women in “all its forms”, while article 3 referred to appropriate measures that States parties were expected to take in “all fields” to ensure the full development and advancement of women.


Article 17(2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana stipulates that “A person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, Colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status” while Article 17(4)(a) provides as follows: “ Nothing in this article shall prevent Parliament from enacting laws that are reasonably necessary to provide -  (a) for the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at redressing social, economic or educational imbalance in the Ghanaian society.”


The AA Bill, therefore, seeks legal backing for increased representation and participation of women in decision-making in all sectors of governing structures and processes.


The Bill also provides a framework to help eliminate discrimination on the basis that each citizen shares equal right to self-development and that, women with equal abilities should have equal opportunities, regardless of gender.


The Bill, if passed into law, is expected to identify and effectively redress areas of social, cultural, economic and educational imbalance, ensure gender equality in Ghana and rectify historical wrongdoings by mandating that certain appointments be made available to those distinguished by gender, minority or those under-represented in society.


Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney and Jotie N. Sule)

Created: 23 August 2016
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