Prioritize socio-cultural and economic wellbeing of women-NETRIGHT


Mrs Patricia Blankson Akakpo, Programme Manager and Head, NETRIGHT Secretariat, says Ghana can only ensure an all-inclusive developmental growth if the socio-cultural and economic wellbeing of women is prioritized.

She said gender equality and women’s rights remained not only a moral imperative but also a pragmatic priority for effective and sustainable development.

“Perusing gender equality results in economic dividends, hence Ghana has a tremendous opportunity to accelerate GDP growth by pursuing policies to accelerate women’s empowerment. Gender equality must be mainstreamed into all of Ghana’s development policies.”

Mrs Akakpo made this observation at the 2022 National Feminist Forum, organised by NETRIGHT, on the theme: “Enhancing Activism in the women’s movement: mobilizing for inclusion and diversity,” on Wednesday in Accra.

The two-day forum is to provide an opportunity to reflect on feminism and gender equality work, strengthen momentum to push for a common feminist agenda, discuss topical and emerging issues affecting Feminists across different spaces and build solidarity.

She said the Forum would present a unique opportunity and space for Feminists to identify some key challenges facing the women’s movement in Ghana and think through how the feminist agenda could be advanced across generations while respecting their Diversities.

“The main objective of the Forum is to create a safe space for women’s discourse, assess women’s rights and gender equality work, discuss critical issues affecting the women’s movement and strategies to increase and sustain activism to push for transformative reforms, and develop an inclusive agenda which integrates the voices of both older and younger generations from different social classes.”

Mrs Akakpo said the low representation of women in politics and governance, women overburdened unpaid care work and alarming levels of violence against women and girls must be a source of concern to all.

“We have come a long way and am hopeful that this form would allow us to take a critical look at our work as Feminists, assess institutions mandated to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality and strategies towards an inclusive evidence-based advocacy to demand gender transformative reforms.”

Mrs Patricia Isabella Essel, Plan International Ghana/Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL), Project Lead, said each word in the theme for the forum played a key role in contributing to the advancement of women’s rights, which was one of the objectives of WVL project.

She said that even though there was a lot of effort being put in by individual Women’s Right Organizations (WROs) to enhance the socio-cultural and economic well-being of women, there were still numerous challenges facing women and girls.

“Having a women’s network such as NETRIGHT serving as an umbrella under which many WROs can come together as one with a unifying voice gives so much hope to the WVL project and women’s movement at large. A strong women’s movement is a step in the right direction towards achieving Plan International’s current global strategy which is “All Girls Standing Strong Creating Global Change”.

Mrs Essel said Plan International as a humanitarian organisation, strives for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls and young women with a focus on gender transformative programming to create a world where all girls and women know and exercise the rights to living the life they choose, and a network of supporters, communities, staff, partners, and donors, all supporting girls and young women to stand strong as they learn, lead, decide and thrive.

She noted that the objectives of this forum when met would contribute immensely to achieving their goals and urged participants to identify some of these key challenges and think through how the feminist agenda could be advanced by all across the nation while respecting their diversities.

Madam Hamida Harrison, Convenor, Women’s Manifesto Coalition, said the advocacy of WRO’s over the years had made more women conscious of their rights, to organise, and to make life-determining decisions that would bring about changes that would address the unjust situation of women.

She said Ghana was yet to see the creation of a total enabling political and cultural environment relating to the nature of democratic governance.

She noted that mentoring of young people must continue to be a critical component of the work of advancing women’s rights and gender equality, and young women must make a commitment to see the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality and be guided by the saying that “if one woman is not free, no woman is free.”

Madam Harrison said strengthening knowledge, and acquiring new skills to a greater understanding of gender dynamics of marginalization and inequality must occupy the thought process of the youth, who form approximately 57 per cent of the 31 million population of Ghana, many of whom are female.

She said even though the current generation of youth was better positioned and had more opportunities than previous ones to help shape development, with greater access to information, technology, education and training they still needed to be trained.

“Young people can be mobilized, supported, and trained to contribute to issues that advance gender equality, peace, sustainable development and a violence free society. Inter-generational inclusion has the capacity to prepare young women to advance the struggle for women’s rights and gender justice.”

Madam Tolulope Lewis-Tamako, a Representative from the UN Women, said the work of the women’s movement continued to be unappreciated and undervalued.

She noted that to bridge the gap of inequalities in the country, it was important to prioritise accessible and flexible funding and facilitate mechanisms to remove restrictions for women to engage in political dialogue and access to high-level decision-making spaces.

“We must advocate and push for the implementation of national action plans, work multisectoral at all levels, join our voices together, leave no one behind, engage women with disabilities, and special needs in our activism, protect human rights defenders, and have intergenerational dialogues.”

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