Government has indicated its preparedness to pass the affirmative Action Bill into law this year, following a directive by the President to get the Bill laid in Parliament by close of March.
“As we speak,the Bill has gone back to the Attorney General’s Department. I want to assure you that the President has directed that he wants the bill in Parliament by the end of the first quarter,” stated Dr Comfort Asare, Director, Department of Gender, Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection.
Dr Asare said, “Government is committed and putting pressure on the Ministry to submit the bill to cabinet,” and subsequently forward to Parliament for possible passage.
She encouraged women’s right groups not to relent in their advocacy, but continue with their pre-passageengagement with all stakeholders to ensure that the bill is passed.
The assurance was given in Accra recently at a consultative meeting with sector ministries to discuss the status of the Affirmative Action Bill.
The meeting was organized by Abantu for Development with support from the African Women’s Development Fund under a project dubbed, ‘Strengthening Advocacy for the Passage of an Affirmative Action Law in Ghana.’
An Affirmative Action Law presents itself as the guaranteed way for increasing women’s participation in governance, public and private spaces.
At the moment,the Affirmative Action Bill seeks a 50/50 percent representation and participation of both women and men in governance, public positions of power and all decision-making spaces of the country. It also requires all sectors to reserve a percentage of their employment for women. Political parties are also to be encouraged to adopt voluntary party quotas to promote women’s participation in party politics.
Further, the Bill mandates all public institutions to adopt gender policies, including recruitment policies, aimed at achieving a balanced structuring of those institutions in terms of gender. The Bill proposes that anyone who insults a woman just because she is vying for public office should be liable for prosecution. Clause 38 of the draft bill provides that, a person who victimises, obstructs or exerts undue influence and submits a female politician to verbal attack, among others, commits an offence.
In a presentation on strengthening campaign and advocacy towards the passage of the Bill, Mrs Joana Adzoa Opare, an International Consultant, emphasized that the Bill when passed, would promote an aggressive increase in active participation of women in all aspect of public life.
Mrs Opare said the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill is critical to women’s participation and representation because, it also provides sanctions for non-compliance and its provisions transcend to the private sector as well.
According to her, it would also serve as measure to correct injustices and the exclusion of women over the years. The Law, she said has proven to be most effective as it has worked in various countries and has enhanced the development of those countries as a result of women’s inclusion and participation.
Dr Rose Mensah Kutin, Executive Director of Abantu for Development who facilitated the programme bemoaned that the national urgency needed to direct the process to see the law passed has been slow, hence, there is the need to scale up and implement effective strategies to secure the passage of the law in order to enhance the principles of political pluralism, democracy and good governance.