President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged Africans to refrain from activities that lead to civil strife.
He said for the continent to take its rightful place in global affairs, it had to shed its image of instability and wars and rather prioritise the establishment of a peaceful environment.
President Akufo-Addo made the call when he addressed the Gender and Development Initiative For Africa Forum in Accra last Friday.
The forum, which looked at the situation analysis of the status of African female refugees and displaced persons, was on the theme: “Moving from serving to thriving”.
On July 3, 2017 President Akufo-Addo was made the AU Gender Champion, with a charge to help mobilise support to transform the continent into an exemplary one with sound policies and programmes, elevate the existential situation of women and establish gender equality and equity in Africa.
The President said even though Africa remained more peaceful, conflicts over the decades had had devastating effects on the continent.
He said, for instance, that the conflicts had brought in their trail large numbers of refugees, with women and children forming about 50 per cent of the numbers.
He said Africa was home to a third of the world’s refugee population, with females accounting for 59 per cent, and said the continent had done a great disservice to past and present generations by leaving women displaced.
“We must also get our politics right; fights among various political groupings since independence have often been more vicious than the fight to throw out the colonial masters and imperialists,” he added.
That, he explained, meant that the continent had a duty to extend the blanket of protection to all women and ensure that their rights were respected.
He expressed worry that most refugees grew up without the needed skills in their youthful life, a situation which could be dangerous, and wondered what opportunities would be available to them and how competitive they could be.
President Akufo-Addo said conflicts were not the only reason for the creation of refugees, noting that economic hardships and lack of opportunities were also forcing many people to move to areas where they could make ends meet.
He said it had become a matter of urgency to change the structure of Africa’s economy, which had, over the years, been dependent on the production and export of raw materials, because such economies could not produce wealth and prosperity for the masses of the people.
He said those who moved into refugee status were driven by their determination to seek much better standards of living out of the continent, thereby fueling the refugee crisis and the numerous illegal migrations.
The President called on African nations to commit to building a world where every female child could have the opportunity to better herself and said that was why Ghana continued to place high premium on education.
He said Ghana was significantly well above the average in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of access to early childhood care and education and added that the country had also improved on its free and compulsory education from primary to senior high school which had improved literacy rates.
He explained that the outcome of the deliberations in Accra would inform how the continent would approach the subject of providing adequate care for displaced women and children.
The President said he was counting on the participation of technical groups and representatives of affected countries to put together a comprehensive and informative report on the status of women refugees, so that he would present it as part of a report to his peers at the next AU meeting.
The Presidential Advisor on Gender and Development, Ms Angela Asante, said the programme was held to, among other things, commemorate the 50th anniversary of the AU’s 1969 Convention and the 10th anniversary of the 2009 AU convention on internally displaced persons.