Cluster on Decentralisation and Citizens’ Participation call for passage of Affirmative Action Bill
Civil Society Organisations Cluster on Decentralisation and Citizens’ Participation has called on the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection to lay the Affirmative Action Bill before Parliament as soon as it resumes from recess.
It also called the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo to use his position as the African Union Gender Champion and Co-Chair of the Sustainable Development Goals to double his efforts towards achieving the set targets by passing the Affirmative Action Bill.
“We have had promises, assurances, pronouncements and proclamations made in election year after election year with very little action taken to address the systemic inequalities that prevent women being part of the decision-making processes,” Ms Efua Edith Chidi, the Co-Convener, CSOs Cluster on Decentralisation and Participation, said.
She was speaking at a media briefing organised by the group to express their displeasure about the inactions of government to facilitate the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill for the past 13 years.
She said the Bill when passed would accelerate Ghana’s efforts at meeting Sustainable Development Goal 5 target of Gender Parity in decision making by 2030 and the African Union Gender Agenda of 50-50 representation of both men and women in decision-making.
“Also, women’s representation in public service, independent constitutional bodies, boards of state institutions and political parties will be greatly enhanced. This will require our government to ensure gender representation at all levels of governance and decision–making and as well address social and economic gaps or imbalances”.
“We want to remind government that 1992 Constitution provides the basis for affirmative action law; Article 17, clause 4a states that ‘Nothing in this Article shall prevent Parliament from enacting laws that are reasonably necessary to provide for the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at redressing civil and political, cultural, social, econo0mic and educational imbalance in the Ghanaian society”.
Ms Chidi said they were extremely worried that the Affirmative Action Bill which was listed as one of the bills on the agenda for the past session of Parliament did not see the light of the day since it was not laid before Parliament went on recess this August.
She said three weeks ago, they issued a statement calling on the Minister of Gender to do the necessary due diligence and present the bill to Parliament again but nothing was done.
She said many African countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi and Guinea Bissau who started the Affirmative Action journey later than Ghana have passed the bill and started implementing with impressive progress.
“In June this year, Guinea Bissau passed their Gender Equality Law and subsequently appointed 50 percent women and 50 percent men to cabinet positions. Other African countries have demonstrated how their governments have been committed to ensuring gender equality within their political space”.
Ms Chidi said after over a decade of action and efforts by the responsible Ministry and other stakeholders, it is quite disappointing that the Bill has never been laid in Parliament, adding that Ghana has the required technical and resource capacity to have concluded, passed and implemented the Bill.
She called on government to prioritise the Affirmative Action Bill so that the country would not lose out from the expected benefits of the Bill.
She said the group would embark on a walk on August 30 in Accra and September 7 in Tamale to press further their demands and draw attention of the public and the government to accelerate the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill and called for media support to achieve that goal.
Ghana has committed to Affirmative Action by signing and endorsing many conventions including the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Platform for Action, the SDGs and the Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender Equality which set a minimum target of 30 per cent of women in decision making position by 2015, among others.
Ms Eunice Agbenyadzi, the Gender Equality Social Inclusion Manager, Star Ghana Foundation, said Affirmative action includes measures that support leveling the playing field for individuals or groups to participate in the decision-making process and called for consented efforts to ensure that there is inclusion in all aspect of governance.
“We understand that it is on the issue of power, but we also understand that it benefits all and if one segment of the population is left behind, then we are missing out in the discourse,” she said.
Mr Frank Wilson Bodza, the Programme Manager for Governance – Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF Ghana), said public interest laws have become a mantra for political parties in Ghana and called on all to join the campaign to facilitate the passage of the Bill.