By Ahedor Jessica
Civil society organisations championing women’s rights issues in Ghana are hitting hard on government to enable women enjoy their privileges or rights as their male counterparts. As a result, a scorecard was launched by the Gender centre for Empowering women in collaboration with the sector players to access government performance on charters and treaties signed on women’s rights.
The Gender centre for Empowering Development (GenCED) has on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, launched the scorecard on Ghana’s performance on the Maputo protocol to assess and provide recommendations on areas that need strengthening and immediate action regarding how the country has fared over the years since it signed on the charter.
The Protocol on the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, also known as the Maputo Protocol was adopted by the African Union in 2003 with 53 African countries signing onto including Ghana. Currently, over 28 African countries have ratified it including Ghana.
Although the country has worked to domesticate some aspects of the protocol and implement actions on some of its articles, some civil societies have urged government to do more to address areas related to women and children. Speaking at the launch of the scorecard to gauge the countries performance, the Executive Director for GenCED, Ms Esther Tawiah expressed confidence the release of a status report on the implementation of the protocol will keep government, stakeholders and other civil society organisations on their toes and fast track policies targeted at achieving these protocol. She added that, while the protocol has many articles, the organisation was only targeting Article 4 which speaks on the Right to Life, Integrity and Security of the person and Article 13 which addresses Economic and Social Welfare rights.
On his part, the Executive Director for Labour Policy International Mr Seth Abloso believes government can get committed and dedicated to international treaties and charters signed especially regarding labour. He opined it is evident that there are many actions against women and children and the persons living with disabilities in the country that are clear violation of their fundamental human rights He bemoaned that even the country’s labour ministry trample upon the right of women while they are to uphold and exhibit what they stand for.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Director of the Gender Department, Mrs. Comfort Asare stressed on the need for behavioural change and sensitization across the country. According to her, the issue with Ghana is culture related and significant progress can be made when the people throw their weight behind government, change their attitude and support policies. From the Commonwealth Ministers, responsible for women’s affairs conference in 1985, the United Nations Conference on Human Rights in 1993, the International Labor Organization through to the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995, violence and discrimination against women has been regarded as a source of concern and a number of conventions and charters have been agreed upon to address it. In the Ghanaian society, women still face discrimination and inequality and are culturally subjected to discriminatory practices that expose them to the violent tendencies of their male counterparts.
The 1992 constitution of Ghana spells out fundamental human rights and freedoms for all citizens and specifically outlines rights to equality and freedom from discrimination yet full implementation of these laws have not been attained. The Ghana Labor Acts 2003(651) section 55-57 provides maternity protection for all pregnant women workers, yet there have been records of incidents in both the private and public sector where women are made to sign contract of agreement which prevents them from getting pregnant within the first two years of their tenure of work.
According to the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) in Ghana, it has been estimated that about 75% of female experience sexual harassment within the working environment, homes and women in higher educational institutions. Unfortunately,media reportage on womens rights issues such as sexual harassment and unlawful dismissals at the workplace has either been minimal or non existent. There has also been poor senitization about the labour law and how it caters to women, leading to human rights abuses on the part of employers.
Now the media as the prime institution for the development of a nation. Through the media, citizens are informed and educated and governments are pushed to action. Media coverage on issues such as corruption has seen the dismissal and prosecution of personalities. Adequate and intense reportage on womens rights issues at the workplace is also likely to push such effects.
The launch of the Ghana Maputo protocol scorecard was attended by representatives from Plan International and Plan Ghana, Members of the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Kenya, stakeholders and the media.