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2011 International Women’s Day Press Release

CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: TAKING STOCK OF WOMEN’S ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE AREAS OF TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT

PREAMBLE

Today, 8th March 2011, marks International Women’s Day.  This day has been set aside by the United Nations body to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation and development of women as equal partners.  It is also meant to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of  global development. The day is symbolic to women in that it is a day they can use to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development.

For this year, the theme is EQUAL ACCESS TO EDUCATION, TRAINING AND SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: PATHWAY TO DECENT WORK FOR WOMEN. Women the world over will focus on how education and training can lead to securing decent work.  As Ghana celebrates this day, the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre, will like to recognize the day and take stock of Ghana’s achievements in improving the lot of women in the area of education and employment as well as look the challenges that women face in their quest for development.

WHAT AND WHERE ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES?

 

Ghana, since independence, has made some significant strides in improving its educational system. Policies and programmes worth mentioning include the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) introduced in 1996, the establishment of Science Resource Centres across the country and the Girls Education Unit. The Science, Technology, Mathematics  Education (STME) clinic for girls was instituted in 1987 to promote the interest of girls in  Science, Technology and Mathematics education and also enable them to interact with women scientists and technologists.  Institutions like Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), Ghana Education Service/Girls’ Education Unit, UNICEF etc have contributed immensely in increasing girl child enrollment in schools.

THE CHALLENGES

Women’s success in accessing adequate education and training has however not been without challenges. There are recorded instances of girls having to drop out of school for reasons linked to early marriage, pregnancy, poverty and society’s perception of women accessing higher education.  Instances of school related gender based violence, sexual harassment and abuse against girls and young women have also been recorded.

Women’s ability to access opportunities is not only limited to education but is extended to their participation in leadership roles as well as accessing decent livelihoods.  There is a heavy underrepresentation of women in both public leadership and governance circles. There is also the issue of the ‘glass ceiling’ where women are often passed over when it comes to promotions and recognition.

Women are largely confined to formal professions which are traditionally female dominated especially education (teaching) and health (nursing) industries.  These do not necessarily provide the best of remunerations.  Check the labour strike landscape in Ghana if in doubt.

A research conducted by FAWE indicates that  only six percent of African women participate in higher education processes as students and faculty administrators.(Promoting women’s access and professional development in higher education [2009-2010] FAWE.)

Achieving decent work for women is heavily premised on the choices available to women on the job market whether formal or informal. Decent work is of great importance to women as more and more are becoming household heads and need to maintain families and other dependants.  In the informal sector where women dominate, the conditions under which they work are sometimes quite deplorable. Our markets are a point of reference – talk of the congestion, sanitation, fire outbreaks etc. Such women lack social security benefits especially when they are no longer engaged in gainful economic activities.   This means that women are more likely to enter into poverty during their old age for several reasons.

WHAT COULD WE DO?

If women can access decent work, then they should equally access good education and training particularly in the sciences and technology which is currently very vibrant and versatile. However, the question again is how Ghana has, as a country, prepared itself for this? The following could be considered among many others:

  1. Conditions under which our market women work should be improved.
  2. Social security contributions should be made mandatory for those in the informal sector to secure their future.  This calls for expedite action on the National Identification process.
  3. Regular training for those in the informal sector in science and technology to make them abreast with improved and modern ways of doing things.
  4. Female-only educational institutions especially at the tertiary levels would be of great help particularly in the sciences and technology. Women should be given increased employment opportunities in this area.
  5. Implementation of policies and programmes designed to prevent and halt school and work related sexual abuse against women and girls.

We believe that the above among others will go a long way to improve the lot of Ghanaian women. The Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre wishes ALL GHANAIAN women, a happy International Women’s Day. We say a big AYEEKOO to you for bracing the challenges and still forging ahead in your development.

 

For further information, please Joyce Lena Danquah or Margaret Brew-Ward 00233 0302 76087 or info@gendercentreghana.org

 

Signed by

 

Dorcas Coker-Appiah

Executive Director

4th March 2011

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