First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo pleaded with young people, especially young women, to bring about the change they want to see and create a world of equal opportunity for all.
“Imagine the world you want to see and create that world for yourself and the generations after you,” she said, and urged them to “leave your footprints in the sands of time.”
Addressing participants yesterday at a roundtable held to mark this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD), the First Lady remarked that while much had been done in the past to close the gap between women and men, “gender disparities remain. Women’s representation still lags behind in politics.
Ms Akufo-Addo said the gender equality guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution “is not translating into reality”.
“Women are still paid less than men for the same work. These and other biases still exist with negative impacts on families and communities,” she said.
International Women’s Day
The roundtable to commemorate IWD was held at the Great Hall of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.
This year’s commemoration is themed: ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Future’, with a campaign hashtag ‘#BreakTheBias’.
The event aims to reflect on how to break down the prejudices and inequalities that prevent women from realizing their full potential.
In Kumasi, the event attracted many dignitaries such as government officials, traditional rulers and students from selected schools in the Greater Kumasi metropolitan area in the Ashanti region.
Among them were the vice president’s wife, Samira Bawumia; wife of the Asantehene, Lady Julia Osei Tutu; the chief of staff, Ms. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare; Ashanti Regional Minister Simon Osei Mensah and KNUST Vice-Chancellor Professor Rita Akosua Dickson.
Table of Women for Peace
Ms. Akufo-Addo pointed out that although conflict affected women and children the most, women were largely absent from the peace table when it came to resolving conflict.
She said studies had shown that peace agreements were 35% more likely to last 15 years when women were involved, and wondered why women were excluded from peace negotiations.
The First Lady said a clear call for all women to join hands with renewed energy to pursue equality together was timely.
Respect points of view
She also called on everyone to appreciate and respect each other’s views, regardless of gender and social class.
The First Lady said that having biased positions was the antithesis of the country’s development.
Ms Akufo-Addo pointed out that over the years, women and girls have been denied so many opportunities because of their gender, and that it was time “to say no to prejudice among all kinds of people. “.
“Bias is not normal. It is the antithesis of development. No amount of explanations, excuses, or excuses can prove you right. Your talent, intelligence, drive, ingenuity, and determination qualifies you for a place at the table. It doesn’t matter what field you work in. What matters is that no one stops you,” the First Lady stressed.
It’s time to hand over
Ms Akufo-Addo said her generation had played its part and it was time for the next generation to pick up the slack and carry on the fight, adding that the ‘equality front’ needed new blood, ‘renewed energy, a fresher perspective and a new kind of hunger. .
“You are now on the front lines advocating for a gender equal world. We are behind you, supporting you with our ideas, our resources and our years of experience in the trenches,” the First Lady said. .
Ms Akufo-Addo urged young leaders to make their voice an integral part of who they were, stressing that “how you use it is key to becoming the person you want to be. Use your voice to create the change you want.
You have the technology
Fortunately for the new generation, Ms Akufo-Addo said they had the advantage of technology where they could access information at the click of a button.
“You have access to the world, including decision-makers and a network of like-minded global citizens. This is something that was unimaginable decades ago.
“It’s time for you to negotiate your way to equality and the removal of prejudice,” she said.
For her part, the chief of staff said that successive governments have integrated various interventions in favor of gender equality.
Ms. Osei-Opare added that education was one of the most important aspects of human development and the elimination of gender disparities at all levels.
She noted that despite progress on the gender equality front, “gender bias persists in most parts of our country.”
The chief of staff said research had shown that women had a huge impact on the well-being of their families and society “but their potential is sometimes not realized due to social norms, incentives and discriminatory legal frameworks”.
She stressed that achieving her rightful place as a female gender “does not happen automatically”, and therefore called on all women to join hands with renewed energy to pursue equality together.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is observed around the world to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
This day also marks a call to action to accelerate gender parity and is an opportunity for groups and institutions to come together to celebrate women’s achievements or to mobilize for women’s equality.
The day was first celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19, 1911, following the agreement of the Copenhagen conference.
Some world institutions and personalities have issued statements to commemorate this day.
UN Secretary General António Guterres said in a post that as the world moved forward to mark the day, the time for women’s rights was moving backwards and said “we are all paying the price”.
He wrote that the cascading crises of recent years had highlighted how women’s leadership was more crucial than ever.
“Women have faced the COVID-19 pandemic heroically as doctors, nurses, and public health and social service workers. But at the same time, women and girls have been the first to lose their jobs or schooling, take on more unpaid care work, and face sky-high levels of domestic and cyber violence and child marriage. children,” he said.
Mr. Guterres called for economic progress through targeted investments in education, employment, training and decent work for women.
“Women should be on the front line for the 400 million jobs we are set to create by 2030. We need social progress through investments in social protection systems and the care economy,” said the UN Secretary General.
Such investments, he added, have yielded huge dividends, creating green and sustainable jobs, while supporting members of societies who need help, including children, the elderly and the sick.
“For a matter of justice, equality, morality and common sense, we need to get things done on women’s rights. We need a sustainable feminist recovery centered on and led by women and girls,” Mr. Guterres said.
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) used the day to draw attention to how women and girls, especially in rural communities, continue to face the brunt of the climate crisis which has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities, compromised their food security and fueled instability and migration.
He said the theme for the day recognizes the contribution of women and girls around the world who have played crucial roles in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
“Women and girls often lack appropriate access to disaster information, financial services, and participation in community decision-making and resource allocation.
“Such inequalities undermine women’s ability to prepare for, cope with and recover from climate shocks and stresses,” he said.
As part of efforts to build resilience in climate action, WFP, in collaboration with five regional agriculture directorates (Upper East, Upper West, Bono East, Northern and Ashanti regions), trained 70 agricultural extension and 21,000 smallholder farmers, more than half of whom are women, on climate-smart agricultural practices.
In doing so, WFP Ghana has contributed to environmental conservation, sustainable agriculture and promoted the integration of good nutritional practices in agriculture, according to a statement from the organization.
The training was based on the fact that more than 50% of the workforce employed in the country’s agricultural sector were women.
Women make up 70% of growers and 85% of food distributors.