, 11 March, 2020 / 12:13 AM
As Ghana joined the rest of the world to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, a Catholic gender activist argued that the only solution to the eradication of corruption in the West African Country is pushing for gender equality and allowing women to take up leadership positions.
“We need women in politics and when women are in charge of affairs, corruption reduces,” Nana Oye Lithur, a Human Rights Lawyer said during the Sunday IWD Celebration at the Christ the King Parish in Accra, Ghana.
She added, “When we vote for more women and create the opportunity for them to effectively and efficiently participate in activities, corruption will reduce.”
The celebrations themed 'EachForEqual' were organized by the Southern Zone of the Young Christian Workers (YCW), a youth group in Ghana, as a way of marking the annual celebration to recognize the achievements of women around the world amid the call for elimination of all discrimination, gender stereotypes, violence and greater equality for women.
Addressing the over 200 members of the YCW, Lithur, a former Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection in the West African country called on Ghanaians to change the narrative of gender inequality against women and girls.
"An equal world is an enabled world and every one of us can do our bit to bring about gender equality,” she said adding that diverse battles had changed the status of women in Ghana in areas such as education and health.
The former government official however noted that the pace to achieve equality was slow, hence the need to develop new strategies to eliminate the numerous hostilities against females who try to enter into male dominated spheres.
Clarifying that gender equality is not a women fight for control, the former public servant said, “The equality women are asking for is not to lord it over men but as an acknowledgement of women’s compliment to men.”
In the considered opinion of the human rights activist, gender inequality remains one of the central challenges of the 21st century in spite of all the progress the world has made.
“Promoting gender equality and empowering women contributes to achieving all the other goals from reducing poverty and hunger to saving children’s lives, improving maternal health, ensuring universal education, combating HIV and AIDS and Malaria and other diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability,” she said.
According to Lithur, inequality is prevalent in women’s participation in politics, in spite of the policies introduced to increase women representation in key government offices.
A survey by afrobarometer.org shows that Ghanaian women have less financial decision-making power and lag in political participation.
According to the survey, 72 percent of Ghanaians agree that women should have the same chance of being elected to political office as men.
In the country, a paltry 15 percent of Parliamentarians are women at position 133 out of 189 on the United Nations Development Programme’s 2019 Gender Inequality Index, the West African country ranks poorly in gender equality.
During Ghana’s 2016 general elections, there was only one female presidential candidate and only one female running mate, representing 14 per cent as opposed to 86 percent male.
With these statistics, the Gender Activist called on women-interest stakeholders, particularly the Government, the Parliament, the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection, civil society organizations, the media, and the public to intensify efforts at addressing challenges confronting women in Ghana.
As a way forward, the former legislature advised, “There should be re-thinking in public policy making to promote women integration and social advancement, through increased budgetary allocations to address gender-inequality, increase employment as well as financial services to women.”
Speaking to ACI Africa on the sidelines of the celebrations, Patience Afetsi, a Catholic businesswoman alluded to the position of women in the Bible saying, “The Church has the duty to contribute to the recognition and liberation of women, following the example of Christ’s own esteem for them."
Afetsi added, “Giving women opportunities to make their voice heard and to express their talents through initiatives that reinforce their worth, their self-esteem and their uniqueness would enable them to occupy a place in society equal to that of men.”
In Ghana, the Church has come out strongly to include women and girls in positions which they didn’t participate in before. These include Lay Readers of the Word, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy communion and Altar Servers.
Women and girls in Ghana who are also members of the Diocesan and Parish Pastoral Councils, serve as Catechists and marriage counselors and participate at Diocesan Synods.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa