International Women’s day is an annual celebration to applaud and recognise the efforts of women in society. It was an activist movement which begun in the 1900s where women used to march to raise awareness of issues affecting the economic and political equality of women. Women have since made significant advancements in society ranging from attaining suffrage to working to bridge the wage gap. Despite these achievements, women are still under-represented in various sectors. Life in a developing country is more of a struggle however, some developing countries particularly Ghana are making some strides towards protecting women.
At the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, Ghana was applauded for its progressive legislature and social interventions to ensure gender equality. The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, addressed the commission on the gender issues in Ghana.
The Minister outlined the significant strides Ghana has made in her gender equality and women’s empowerment efforts through the enactment of various legislation and formulation of social policies. These include the Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking and Children’s Acts, as well as amendment of the Criminal Offences Act, and the criminalization of harmful customary practices and higher sentence for Female Genital Mutilation.
She also noted the government’s measures that have been placed to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. This includes the establishment of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service with 97 offices nationwide, and the establishment of specialised gender based courts in Accra and Kumasi. Other initiatives also include shelters for survivors of domestic violence in Accra, the creation of anti-domestic violence clubs, training of police, healthcare providers and social welfare officers.
Nana Oye Lithur noted that despite these institutional frameworks, Ghanaian women and girls continue to suffer “sexual abuse, physical violence, some harmful traditional practices, child labour and socio-economic violence”. Citing the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service’s 2011 record – 12,906 cases included various forms of violence against women nationwide.
The Honourable Minister also recommended the empowerment of girls, use of data and research as well as improving technical support for the detection and prevention of violence.
Domestic Violence is a battle that we as women continue to face but, with the right legislation and empowerment we will draw closer to preventing it.
GUBA will like to congratulate all the wonderful and determined women who are working to break the glass ceiling. Happy International Women’s day!! Let us continue to work towards success.