On Monday, June 19, 2017, ABANTU for Development, members of the Women’s Manifesto Coalition (WMC), ActionAid Ghana and the Gender Action on Climate Change for Equality and Sustainability (GACCES) had a consultation with the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection. The forum began at approximately 10am at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) in Accra. The aim of the consultation was:
- To discuss the way forward for the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill
- To identify the role of women’s rights organisations especially, ABANTU, the Women’s Manifesto Coalition (WMC), ActionAid Ghana and the Gender Action on Climate Change for Equality and Sustainability (GACCES) in facilitating the ongoing initiatives along the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill.
- To agree on concrete action areas towards the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill.
Honourable Otiko Afisa Djaba, the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, welcomed the representation and was grateful for their presence. Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin, the Director of ABANTU for Development, was also grateful to the Minister for taking time off her busy schedule to meet with them. First of all, she congratulated the Honourable Minister for being called into such a position of repute. She remarked that though the Minister had faced various hurdles, she had stood strong and that was commendable.
2.0 Discussions on the Affirmative Action Bill
Moving forward, Dr. Mensah-Kutin stated that processes leading to the Affirmative Action Bill began over a decade ago, however, the Bill has still not been passed. The meeting was therefore to find out where the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) was, with regard to the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill and also to discuss ways of collaboration to facilitate the passage of the Bill.
The Director for Gender at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), Dr. Comfort Asare, mentioned that the Ministry had had a two-day meeting to review sections of the Affirmative Action Bill to ensure that it reflected the current needs and demands of women. Dr. Asare remarked that members of the Women’s Manifesto Coalition participated in the said meeting. She added that, one of the key actions of the meeting was that a committee was set up to incorporate all the issues that had been raised and to finalise the Bill.
She further stated that the committee was to have its final meeting on Friday, June 23, 2017 to finalise the Bill.
The Minister continued by stating that after the Bill has been finalised, a cover letter from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection will be written and added to the Bill to be sent to the Attorney General’s department for review and then to Cabinet. The biggest hurdle she said, is when the Bill gets to Parliament. She recounted that her main concern was how to collaborate with all stakeholders to increase advocacy on the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill. Hon. Otiko Djaba then highlighted the need for a communication plan on advocacy to influence the passage of the Bill. She reiterated that the entire country must be informed; from the literate to the illiterate, sellers and especially the grass root members.
Hon. Otiko Djaba informed the delegation that Parliament was to recess in July and the goal of MoGCSP is to get the Bill to Parliament before recession as MoGCSP is working towards the passage of two Bills before the end of the year; the Affirmative Action Bill and the Aging Bill.
Hon. Otiko Afisa Djaba making her presentation
Dr. Hamida Harrison, the Convener for the Women’s Manifesto Coalition commended the Ministry for its commitment to the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill and was particularly happy about the processes that had gone on so far. She further stressed on the need for an advocacy plan that would aid in garnering support from the entire citizenry to aid in the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill, just as it was done for the Domestic Violence Bill.
The Minister then requested for the list of Civil Society Organisations in the gender domain to be included in a two-day workshop on the development of an advocacy plan as well as strategies for gathering support for the passage of the Bill. She added that all Civil society organisations must come together to raise awareness, build ownership and ensure the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill this year.
3.0 Discussions on Gender and Climate Change
With regard to the issue of gender and climate change, Dr. Rose Menash-Kutin remarked that a brief had already been sent to her on issues of concern to women, in the area of climate change. Dr. Mensah-Kutin added that key among the issues raised in the brief is the need for a representation from MoGCSP on the National Implementation Strategy Team (NIST) for Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contributions as critical decisions of concern to women and climate change were made at that level.
Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin, making her submission
Additionally, Dr. Mensah-Kutin stated that civil society organisations including GACCES, NETRIGHT and several others have made tremendous contributions towards gender and climate change. However, it was critical for the sector Ministry to be represented in these discussions to make contributions and also to inform the work of the Ministry. Dr. Mensah-Kutin finally spoke on the need for the Minister, Hon. Otiko Djaba to meet with the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation to urge them to be gender responsive in all their policies and programmes and also to be informed on the work of the Ministry.
The Minister then requested the Director of Gender to schedule a meeting with the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation which will be participated by members of the GACCES platform including Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin.
Mr. Kenneth Amoateng, a member of GACCES raised the issue of efficient cooking in the school feeding programme. He stated that firewood is still being used for cooking under the school feeding. This, he said, contributes tremendously to climate change and increases its impacts. He therefore called on the Minister to stop the use of firewood which depletes the ozone layer and is also harmful to the health of the women as they inhale the smoke from the firewood. Alternatively, he suggested the use of gas or the efficient cook stoves which are safer and healthier.
Dr. Mensah-Kutin remarked that this issue was discussed at length at the just ended Ghana Energy Summit as well as some gender dimensions to climate change. She used the platform to reiterate the need for the sector Ministry to be interested in the climate change discourse as those are the spaces where resources are readily available and women’s issues are cross-cutting.
Finally, Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin added that civil societies were doing their bit, but critically needs the support of the government and the sector Ministry.
A cross-section of participants
Ms. Diana Gakpetor on behalf of the delegation, expressed gratitude to the Minister for her attentiveness and keen interest in the issues raised. She was hopeful that the Affirmative Action Bill was capable of being passed this year if all stakeholders worked hard towards it. She mentioned that she was looking forward to a fruitful working relationship with the Minister to address women’s issues in the country.
Hon. Otiko Djaba remarked that she was extremely grateful for the learning opportunity as learning never stops. She stated that she was a beneficiary of ABANTU’s training and capacity building for women in politics and to have them once again is an illustration of their support which she greatly cherished. She finally added that it was impossible for women’s issues to be addressed single-handedly by anyone or any Ministry for that matter as women’s issues are countless and cross-cutting. She added that there is the need for more of such visits that will help shapen her and ensure that she discusses women’s issues in a manner that is accepted, recognised and properly communicated to the general public as she is the mouth piece for women and the vulnerable in Ghana.
The consultation ended successful at approximately 1pm.