Dr Afisah Zakariah, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), has said the efforts at achieving gender parity is being impeded by negative cultural practices.
Top among these are the clichés that ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen’; women must incontestably submit to men; and that men should have higher education than women.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency as part of the International Women’s Day celebration, Dr Zakariah, however, noted that
many Ghanaian women had broken the barriers and contributed immensely towards national development.
Over successive generations, such women have risen to top levels in business, corporate governance, industry, the Civil Service, among others, impacting their various fields and beyond.
Nonetheless, Dr Zakariah noted that the nation would only reap the full benefits of its potential for advancement when males and females were granted an equal pedestal to utilise opportunities and assisted to maximise them.
In view of the productive nature of women, she stated that there was so much to gain in their empowerment and quoted Ghana’s renowned son, Dr James Kwegyir Aggrey’s assertion: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual; if you educate a woman, you educate a nation”.
Dr Zakariah advised women to exhibit patriotism and strive to be part of the decision-making processes in their families, communities and nations to ensure that their concerns and perspectives were captured to make the their lives more meaningful.
For her part, the Reverend Dr. Comfort Asare, a Director at the Ministry, lauded the exceptional talents of women, saying they would spearhead a sustained campaign to break those inhibitive cultural barriers.
She expressed hope for greater improvement, saying today’s generation was more open-minded and receptive to gender parity.
“We must understand that gender equality must be in the heart and on the agenda of all citizens of the world, especially women, because our collective wellbeing as humankind will be guaranteed when we achieve this”.
She advised women and children who suffered physical abuse and sexual harassment to exercise their rights of freedom by speaking up and seek justice by reporting the perpetrators to the Police or other institutions responsible for handling such issues.
Sexual harassment; loss of jobs and positions in the private sector related to maternity leave; and lack of access to economic reliefs, she said, all hindered the hard work of women.
The year-long theme for this Year’s International Women’s Day is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.