A MESSAGE TO WOMEN BY SAMIA YABA NKRUMAH, MP
ON THE OCASSION OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2012
Today marks an important day for women all over the world because 8th March is International Women’s Day and as the leader of a party that has long championed the cause of women, I fully support any focus on women’s empowerment.
It is my belief that this is one of the means through which we can achieve equality of all regardless of gender.
This year’s theme “Connecting Girls, Inspiring futures” and its sub theme “Empowering Rural Women, End Poverty and Hunger” is very much at the heart of all that the CPP stands for. It may be recalled that the CPP spearheaded gender issues on the continent with the All African Women’s Conference in 1958 which brought women from across the continent to Accra to agree a way forward for the emancipation of African women.
The CPP also initiated many policies aimed at empowering women including equal pay for equal work, free maternity pay, and affirmative action in all areas of life including the military, engineering, construction and off course in Parliament where a 10 per cent female representation in Parliament was introduced. The passing of the Representation of the People’s Bill in 1960 led to an increase in female representation in Parliament to 18%. Sadly, this has dwindled to 9% in our current Parliament.
Today the CPP is happy to support the affirmative action bill which is proposed for Ghana’s Parliament and seeks to increase the representation of women in politics and all areas of decision-making. Additionally, we would like to ensure that on this occasion the noble ideals envisioned in the theme are realized to achieve equal opportunity for both girls and boys to reach their full potential. Importantly, we believe in the removal of all institutional, cultural and social barriers that prevent girls and young women from participation in society as equal partners particularly since women constitute the majority of our population.
According to the 2010 Population and Housing Census, women constitute about 51.3 of the population of Ghana. Thus, women can be described as indispensable in the development of this nation. Women have a great role to play in our quest to evolve a new economic order, to accelerate social, economic and political development and consequently transform the Ghanaian society. Women’s contribution to their households, food production, education and health as well as national economic development has been acknowledged by many. As Dr Kwegyir Aggrey a renowned Ghanaian Educationist once put it: “if you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a women, you educate a nation.”
As is evident in the modern world, women play a range of roles including, being a wife, a mother, a home maker and above all a development agent. In effect she is expected to be a good mother and a wife and at the same contribute her quota to national development.
Not long ago, women organizations in our dear nation came together to develop a ‘Women’s Manifesto which emanated from consultations with women at all levels of society. This document was presented to political parties to inform the development of their policies for the general election in 2008. Sadly, not much has been done to improve the living conditions of women in Ghana.
As a political party - Convention People’s Party, we believe that sustainable national growth and transformation can only take place if policy makers adopt gender-responsive policies, strategies and programmes. It is my hope that all of us will work towards such a goal.
The global call for increased women’s participation in socio-economic activties must not be seen as a charitable act but rather as a call for social justice and the means through which we can maximise our potential for national development. The woman in the 21st Century is an important agent of change this is because most women have increasingly become responsible for educational and other material needs of their dependents. We believe that in order to change our country’s vision, we have, to change our orientation as a nation and understand that to reach all the people, women must be reached first, they influence their children, the family and the nation at large.
Despite, the enormous contributions that women are making to society, they are still the least advantaged. They are considerably poorer and less educated than their male counterparts are and less likely to engage in decision making in public life. According to studies done in Ghana, women in 2000 received less than ten percent of all credit going to small farmers and only one percent of the total credit given to the agricultral sector. This is worth reflectiong on since many women in rural areas are engaged in agricultural activity.
For women to play their role in national development and transformation, much more need to be done to enable them to increase their contribution. For our society to be transformed, the contribution of more than half of the population must no longer be ignored and relegated to the background.
First, women have to be encouraged, enabled and empowered to achieve higher levels of education. This will increase the participation and output of women in our national development.
Second, political commitment is needed for designing and implementing a long-term national development strategy and its associated policies. These require the participation of all sectors of the society and the active enagement of both men and women.
Reflecting on the theme, Ghana needs to do more for its young population especially girls. It is only through focused and concerted action that we can achieve the laudable aims of this year’s Women Day themes of “Connecting Girls, Inspiring futures” and its sub theme “Empowering Rural Women, End Poverty and Hunger”.
To begin with we should among others:
- invest in human resource by, for instance, ensuring that secondary education is free and compulsory and that there is skills training to produce innovators for transformation
- prioritize creating and implementing polices that target girls and young women in rural areas
- encourage mentoring programmes in which older women create schemes through which they can motivate younger ones to see success as achievable. This will be both inspirational and empowering
- encourage younger women and girls to connect by forming networks through which as peers they can learn from each other
I wish to take this opportunity to applaud the women of the world for their fortitude and their commitment to their families and their selfless devotion to their communities. I would also like to assure them that we will continue to champion their cause in line with the ideals captured at independence for the full emancipation of the African woman.
Onward to justice and equality for all
Samia Yaba Nkrumah,
Chairperson and Leader, CPP