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General News Fri, 22 May 2009

Women groups ask for ratification of ILO Convention

Accra, May 22, GNA - Gender activists, labour groups and other key stakeholders have commenced a campaign aimed at supporting the ratification and application of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 183 on Maternity Protection.

The new ILO Convention 183 as compared to the ILO 108, seeks to provide women with revised protection in areas of reproductive health by rejecting all forms of discrimination against women. The new convention also takes into consideration, the needs of female workers and the effect of working environment on the reproductive health of women.

At a day's forum in Accra, organized by International Union of Food and Agricultural Workers (IUF) based in Geneva, Switzerland on Maternity Protection, Madam Ann Dela Apekey a Gender Activist, described the convention as a progressive document, which grants women job security, hence deserves the endorsement of the government. According Madam Apekey, the new ILO convention has some degree of flexibility as it shows a clear departure from the previous one, adding that, it is relevant for the health and growth of children. Madam Apekey said the new convention also enabled women and their partners the opportunity to make decisions about their babies and child care without the fear of losing their jobs as the women was granted the right to return to the same or similar position at the end of her maternity leave.

She said due to job protection and security, women are able to give new born babies adequate care and this prevents malformation as well as exposure to harmful substances.

Madam Apekey therefore, called on the government to guarantee the required conditions for the ratification of the convention as well as effective supervision for its implementation. She called on trade unions, NGO, political leaders, associations and communities and opinion leaders to support the ratification of the convention to enable mothers to enjoy its full benefits. Dr. Emmanuel Odame of the Ridge Hospital, a resource person said economic security is linked to the health and well-being of workers and their families, therefore any attempt to deny mothers the rights to work could lead to unhealthy families, poor labour force and unintelligent future leaders.

He said the convention is significant because it afforded women the opportunity to provide exclusive breastfeeding since it is crucial to the survival and good health of children. According to Dr. Odame, countries in West and Central Africa have the highest rate of child malnutrition and mortality due to poor nutrition.

He added that the situation could be averted through exclusive breastfeeding, hence the need to grant women adequate protection at the workplace.

The forum was attended by Abantu for Development, Network for Women's Right, Labour Departments, Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, Ministry of Children's Affairs and Ghana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU).

Source: GNA