The Afadjato South Member of Parliament (MP) has implored president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to redeem his campaign promise to have 30 percent women in his cabinet.
In a statement marking the International Women's Day Thursday, Angela Oforiwa Alorwu-Tay has asked the president to demonstrate his commitment to women empowerment by fulfilling the 2016 promise.
"My mentor and our dear former President, John Mills of blessed memory promised to appoint 40 percent women into his cabinet. But he failed to deliver on that...but President Akufo-Addo has time," the statement said.
Read the statement below:
Time to walk the talk
Today marks another day set aside to celebrate women’s achievements across the world irrespective of nationality, race, colour and religious background.
As a Member of Parliament (MP) for Afadjato South, I recognize our country has made some significant progress in the area of gender parity but the day presents us the opportunity to do more. This year’s celebration is anchored on the theme: “Press for Progress.”
What it means in the larger context is that all the women including the men in the society can’t be complacent in evening the playing field for both sexes. Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call for us to press forward. This is a strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.
Ghana should be seen striving towards that noble aim if it wants to see much progress and development. We have had female Speaker of Parliament and two female Chief Justices, but the feat in it is not enough. We have more barriers to remove without which our development will not be complete.
Our nation is still grappling with the following:
1) Cultural challenges that look down on women as weaker sex which continue to draw back the progress made. There are still people who think the place of the woman is the kitchen and not the boardroom with others holding on to the misconception that the woman cannot do the things men do. This is very troubling. About 51 percent of our country’s population is made up of females but only 35 out of the 275 MPs are females representing 12.75 percent. Why should this be so?
2) The lack of political will by the government in addressing issues of women empowerment continues to be a key challenge. Political parties during campaigns make several promises to women but go back on them when they win power. My mentor and our dear former President John Mills of blessed memory promised to appoint 40 percent women into his cabinet. But he failed to deliver on that. President Akufo-Addo also promised to give at least 30 percent of appointments to women but he hasn’t been able to deliver on that. We need to see visible progress if what we want is development.
3) Absence of Affirmative Action Law. The absence of the law that will check actions of our leaders is deeply worrying and sad. The Affirmative Action Bill has been discussed for many years but has not been brought to parliament for subsequent passage into law. Though laws in themselves do not guarantee change unless backed by new attitudes, we still need them as a benchmark to guide our actions. The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) must help the opposition lawmakers work the Bill and ensure its passage.
4) Issues of forced marriage, child marriage and exchange marriage are prevalent in the country and we need to address this. Recent UN statistics estimate about 27 percent of children in Ghana have been victims of child marriages. Such practices affect the education of the girls and make it impossible for them to reach their full potential.
5) Complaints about sexual abuse of women go unattended to thereby affecting their confidence and make it impossible for them to live their full potential. There have been numerous incidents of gang rape, defilement, rape and other acts of sexual violence against women but we never got to the bottom of that. Again, this makes it impossible for women to break the glass ceiling and head to the top. Let’s be proactive in addressing some of these acts of violence against women.
1) We need more women appointed to political positions. The good thing is that President Akufo-Addo who promised to ensure the appointment of 30 percent women is still the nation’s leader. He still has the opportunity to make Ghana proud in that regard. We have been hearing of an impending re-shuffle since the beginning of the year which is yet to come. When that materializes, Mr President, use that opportunity to appoint more women into positions.
2) There has been this long-standing conversation that political parties should reserve parliamentary seats specifically for only women. It is about time we implemented that. Political parties, at least the major ones, should come to a consensus on specific seats they will want to make an all-women contest for specific elections and help guarantee that women get into the House.
3) The affirmative action bill must be passed. I was happy to hear the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Otiko Afisa Djabah make the promise that government will get this passed by the end of the year. All stakeholders should get involved so we can get that bill passed into law to ensure at least 30 percent women representation in all spheres of the leadership of the country.
4) And finally, the media and Ghanaians should keep up pressure that helps press for gender equality and not ignores women issues. Panellists on radio and television shows should not have all female representation only when we are celebrating International Women’s Day. This should be a daily affair.
It is time to walk the talk. It is time for action. It is time to press for progress on issues of women empowerment.
Angela Oforiwa Alorwu-Tay
Member of Parliament, Afadzato South