Widows and Orphans in the Upper East Region have called on the government to as a matter of urgency implement actionable policies and programmes geared at ending gender-based violence to promote sustainable national development.They recognized the efforts of both current and past governments in an attempt to address the canker especially through the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act of 2007, Act 732, implementation of the livelihood empowerment against poverty among others but widows and their children still faced discrimination and violence and urged the government to do more.
These were contained in a communiqué, presented by the widows and orphans to Madam Paulina Patience Abyage, the Upper East Regional Minister, in Bolgatanga as part of activities to mark the International Widow’s Day.
The annual celebration was preceded by route march on the principal streets of Bolgatanga with the widows and their children carrying placards with inscriptions such as ‘Widows are good decision makers’, ‘Orphan girls, not brides’, ‘Decentralize DOVVSU’, ‘Make widows issues more visible’ among others.
The event on the theme: “Claiming our rights through amplified voices for societal development” was organized by the Widows and Orphans Movement (WOM), a gender-based advocacy organization with funding support from Action Aid Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).
The International Widows Day is a United Nations (UN) ratified day of action to address the poverty and injustices confronting millions of widows and their children through awareness creation about the issues militating against them.
Madam Mary Ayine, one of the widows who read the communiqué on behalf of her colleagues and their children indicated that Ghana had signed and ratified some international conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the invaluable contribution of women to national development, and yet, widows continued to face numerous challenges including human rights abuses, gender inequality among others, which impeded their development.
They said “it remains a fact that Ghana lost an average of GH¢73.5 million due to violence against women and girls in 2016 alone. One in every three women still experienced violence whilst many children continue to miss school due to the violence experienced by their mothers.
“We are quick to add that this region will remain one of the poorest if we do not equally prioritize the issues widows and their children faced.
They demanded that the government, through the Regional Minister should take steps to decentralize the offices of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) to the district levels and ensure the regional police command post qualified personnel to those offices to ensure that widows and children whose rights have been abused could seek redress.
They further called on the government to adequately allocate funds to sensitize communities on the rights of widows and their children and implement interventions, which would effectively ensure inclusive governance.
Alhaji Ibrahim Habila, Assistant Director of Administration, Upper East Regional Coordinating Council, who received the communiqué on behalf of the Regional Minister, promised to relay their concerns to the Regional Minister for the appropriate actions to be taken.