The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, has indicated that the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill in Ghana is the best alternative, not only the right thing to do.
She said, if the bill is passed, it will require government to ensure equitable gender representation at all levels, be it public service, ministerial positions, independent constitutional bodies, boards of state institutions, security services and political parties.
She added that the passage of the Affirmative Action bill will be an effective strategy to achieving Gender Equality.
Delivering the welcome address at the 2nd Gender Dialogue for the passage of the Affirmation Action Bill on Wednesday, Nana Oye hinted that, should the bill be passed, it would ensure full participation of women in all political machineries as well as during election primaries by political parties.
“Affirmative action will strengthen our national economy. It will provide society with the diversity necessary to compete in the global market. It helps to ensure that the public sector is reflective of the population of Ghana”, she reiterated.
“Affirmative Action Law is Ghana’s only way of attaining gender equality with respect to women’s participation in decision making. This is because it provides legally mandated systems, structures and policies to ensure women’s equal participation. The Bill when passed will promote Affirmative Action at all levels of governance and decision-making in Ghana, as well as address other social and economic imbalances”, she emphasized.
Nana Oye indicated that the bill has gone through the second draft stage and it is now in the finalization and popularization process where the ministry is dialoguing with stakeholders and various interest groups on its content so as to ensure its smooth passage into law by Parliament.
She expressed optimism that, if the validation process with stakeholders is successful, the bill should be submitted to cabinet for approval before December 2015.
The Minister for Gender President John Dramani Mahama for appointing the highest number of women any Ghanaian President has ever appointed into Government.
She said women of Ghana are gratified for the President’s confidence reposed in women and for identifying them as equal partners in developing and governing Ghana.
“Dare I say that this is the highest appointment of women to public office by any Ghanaian President since independence”, she stressed.
Nana Oye indicated that she would be defending the Gender Equality Bill in parliament and the bill, coupled with the Affirmative Action Bill when passed, would ensure the continuous sustenance and increase of the number of women in governance positions in Ghana.
Nana Oye called on all to stand firm for the bill and make a commitment to educate people to support it. She further appealed to all for their unflinching support for the Affirmative Action Bill to be passed into law for women to take their right place in the country.
Women’s representation in Parliament since Independence
Our representation was 0 percent at independence; it increased to 7.2 percent after President Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s Affirmative Action Law. It fell to 2 percent in the 2nd Republic, 3.6 percent in the Third republic, 8 percent in first Parliament of the 4th Republic and now 10.5 percent in our 5th Parliament. It has taken us 54 years to get to 10.5 percent.
The Journey For An Affirmative Action Law
The process began in 2006 with the launch of “WOMEN IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE PROJECT” with the objective to raise funds to support women at local level decision-making positions of the government (District Assemblies) by the then Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC) now Ministry of Gender and Social Protection. The result was quite encouraging with an increase of 2.9% over the previous election.
The MOWAC followed up this process with the launch of a 3 year project know as “support for Women into District Assembly and Parliamentary Elections Campaign” from 2010-2012. The above project ushered in a number of activities aimed at encouraging and preparing women to avail themselves to participate in both District and Parliamentary Elections. Among the major activity was to promote the implementation of an Affirmative Action Policy targeting 40% for women in decision making positions.
Launch Of Nationwide Public Consultation
With the support to the AAB working Committee, a comprehensive programme was launched to kick start the process of a nation-wide public for consultation on the Affirmative Action Bill. The launch was held in Accra on Tuesday October 11, 2011 at 2011 at the M-Plaza Hotel in Accra subsequently, regional consultations were held to seek the views of the general public particularly traditional rulers in the ten regions of Ghana by the end of 2011.
Drafting Of The AA (Gender Equality) Bill And Validation
A Consultant was contracted to draft the AA Bill based on the instructions. The consultant submitted draft Bill to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection which was forwarded to the Attorney General’s Department for review.
The draft Bill from the Attorney General’s Department processes with stakeholders from Civil Society Organizations, Parliamentary Select Committee on Gender and Children and Social Services, the leadership of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affirmative Action Legislation Working Committee and other key implementing partners.
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has amended the Bill per comments and suggestions from the validation processes forwarded it to the Attorney General’s Department for finalization. The Ministry will forward the Bill to Cabinet for approval and subsequently to parliament for its passage into Law.
Alongside these the legal procedures the Ministry will continue to engage the Ghanaian public on the content of the Bill.
Legal And Political Framework Mandating Affirmative Action Law
The Affirmative Action Bill is based on Articles 36( 5) and 17 (2) of the 1992 Constitution which stipulates that each person is equal before the law and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic orgin, religion, creed and social or economic status.
Article 17(4)(a) provides for Parliament to enact laws for the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at redressing social, economic or education imbalance in the Ghana Society.
The government’s agenda under the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGSDA, 2010-2013);spells out need to increase the participation of women in national development process and means through which women’s poverty levels and constraints will be reduced.
The Affirmative Action Bill has been developed in accordance with the international instruments that Ghana has ratified, including the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention of the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
The Bill also takes into accounts a number of other International and regional instruments to which Ghana is a signatory. The obligation in this instrument guides the Government of Ghana and its Institutions.
The general provisions of the affirmative action law require government to ensure appropriate representation of women in public office, governance and decision-making positions. The proportion is a set at a minimum of 40% of positions recruited and appointed by any given time.
This minimum target is also set for all other government institutions and associated bodies.
Highlights Of The Affirmative Action Bill
The proposes of the AA Bill is to promote the full and active participation of women in public life by providing for a more equitable system of representation in electoral politics and governance in accordance with the public of Ghana’s International and constitutional obligations and notational developments aspirations.
The AA Bills also provides a framework to help eliminate discrimination on the basis that each citizen shares equal rights to self-developments and that woman with equal abilities should have equal opportunities regardless of gender.
The Bill when passed into law will carefully identify and effectively redress areas of social, cultural, economic and educational imbalance and ensure gender equality in Ghana.
The Law will rectify historical wrongs by mandating that certain opportunities be made available to those distinguished by gender, minority or underrepresented status. All governments’ institutions, civil society organizations, private sector and individuals have a role to play in the implementation of the Affirmative Action Law.
The AA draft bill, under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has been supported by all developments partners including the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), The American Embassy, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), Actionaid Ghana
There was also support from Parliament, Parliamentary Select Committee on Gender and Children, the National Affirmative Action Legislating Working Committee, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the MMDAs, CSO, Messrs Joana Opare, Hillary Gbedemah and Shelia Menka-Premo, the media, various groups and the public.
Source: The General Telegraph
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