Review legislation on sexual harassment to include digital space

Sulemana Braimah MFWA 1024x683 Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa

Thu, 28 Oct 2021 Source: ghanaiantimes.com.gh

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has urged the government to review the existing scope of its legislation and policies on sexual harassment to include the digital space.

According to a study conducted by the Foundation, sexual harassment was not occurring in physical spaces alone, but in various settings and different media, such as the internet.

“Therefore, it has to ensure that all the varying settings are considered in the enforcement of policies,” the study titled “Women’s Rights Online in Ghana: National Policy Gaps and Recommendations,” said.

Funded by World Wide Web Foundation, the study aimed to review selected policy documents to identify policy gaps that need to be addressed to make them gender-responsive.

This was done under the second phase of MFWA’s Women’s Rights Online Project which, among other things, seeks to improve the situation of women online and secure a safe and conducive internet environment in the country.

Laws and policies reviewed under the study included the National Gender Policy, Ghana’s combined sixth and seventh periodic reports on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and Ghana’s Report on Beijing+25, 2015 – 2019 and National Communications Authority.

Regulations (2019), National Communications Acts (524, 1996; 769, 2008).

Others were the Electronic Communications Regulations and Amended Acts; Electronic Transactions Act, 2008; National Information Technology Act 771; Ghana ICT for Accelerated Development Policy (2003) and Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice Act, 1993; ICT for Education Policy and Gender and Agricultural Development Policy and other documents from international institutions.

Some of the gaps identified in them were non-gender-based initiatives and lack of segregated data on women; non-inclusion of ICTs in the policies, and lack of specific legislation that dealt with women’s online protection issues.

It also identified insufficient funding to implement women’s rights online projects and the non-inclusion of non-governmental stakeholders such as Civil Society Organisations, the media, and academia in the formulation and implementation of policies on women’s rights online.

To fill these gaps, it recommended that the institutions generating the policies should clearly indicate the sources of funding in the policy document and ensure that budget estimates were gender-segregated to show how much would be spent on women’s issues, while the funds should be released as scheduled and expenditure monitored.

It suggested that the government should hasten the provision of quality communication infrastructure in the underserved communities to ensure access by all with priority on local content that caters to the needs and interests of women.

The study also recommended that advocacy and education should be used to equip women with basic ICTs and job-related ICT skills to enable them to function more effectively in the digital space.

Stakeholders such as the Civil Society Organisations, the media, and others, should be proactively engaged in the formulation and implementation of gender-related policies, according to the study.

Source: ghanaiantimes.com.gh
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