March 8, 2022

Is Affirmative Action Bill A Solution To Gender Disparity In Ghana?

Female MPs In The 8th Parliament

Students Leader, Amtu Ameyaw has called for immediate the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill, which is before the Parliament of Ghana, as a remedy to gender disparity and inequality in the Ghanaian society.

Speaking at a public discussion at the 2022 International Women’s Day (IWD) on the theme Breaking The Bias, Amtu noted that legislators must, on their side, consider catalysing the passage of the bill whose attempts began in 1998.

“Isn’t it about time that as we are calling for the bias, we also urge our political leaders to pass the Affirmative Action Bill”?

The Affirmative Action Bill, according to ABANTU, a Civil Society Organisation, is a temporary measure that seeks to promote women’s participation and representation in decision-making spaces including public service, ministerial positions, independent constitutional bodies, boards of state institutions, security services, and political parties.

Lawyer Maame Yaa Achiaa Mensah Bonsu, a lecturer at the University of Ghana School of Law and a panel member in the discourse however pointed out that the bill may not necessarily be a solution to the long-standing problem.

She described the bill as a two-edge sword that will merit women at a point but unfavour women at a different point. According to her, the bill will create room for women to participate in governance, however, it will create room for women who aren’t competent enough for some positions and forge the impression that women are inept.

The issue of competence was however shot down by the Member of Parliament for Atiwa East constituency, Abena Osei Asare who affirmed that competence doesn’t come into play when it comes to gender imbalance and inequality.

Per the female MP’s submissions, there are adequate competent women in the country who can take up various leadership roles.

“I believe that we have very capable women who are competent enough to fill positions in the bigger spot that we have. Asking for competence, we have a lot of women here as examples, our first lady, our second lady, Lady Julia, our own Chief of Staff (Akosua Frema Opare) who has occupied that position for the first term of the president, and the second term as well, it’s never happened. The competence is there.”

That notwithstanding, she doesn’t trust the Affirmative Action Bill alone to remedy the “endemic biases” in the country. She pointed out that the nature of women will always create gender inequality but if effective systems are adopted in addition to the bill, gender inequality will be eradicated.

She explained that “By nature, we are supposed to procreate and give birth to children yet in the office setting, when women get pregnant,…some end up being at home and lose their job in the end. For those who are to do the 9 months and 3 months maternity leave, getting back to work becomes difficult. Women are left behind in the men’s world. That’s how come we don’t have enough women in the formal space. Apart from the Affirmative Action Bill, systems must be put in place for reintegration after giving birth.”

Will the Affirmative Action Bill become a panacea to the “endemic” gender disparity and inequality?

Source: Fuseini

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