On International Women’s Day 2017, we’re kicking off a series of brief reflections by women from around the world on gender and human rights. Our first is a post from Ghana, written by Felicia Fauzia Anthonio. Felicia works with IFEX member the Media Foundation for West Africa. She coordinates the activities of the African Freedom of Expression Exchange, a network of 12 prominent freedom of expression organisations. Make sure to like IFEX on Facebook and follow us on Instagram to read more reflections in the coming months.
International Women’s Day (IWD) highlights women’s remarkable achievements and contributions to society. Most importantly, the day seeks to underline challenges women face worldwide and how to tackle these challenges. Women at all levels of society continue to face systematic discrimination, and Ghanaian women are no exception.
This year’s IWD, themed “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030,” is a wakeup call to Ghanaian women to take up roles and responsibilities traditionally reserved for men. It is about time the Ghanaian woman is empowered to actively engage and be equally represented in national affairs. Women outnumber men in Ghana, yet when it comes to decision-making, they are woefully underrepresented in both the private and public sectors. For instance, out of 275 parliamentarians elected for the 2017-2020 term, only 35 (12.7%) are women.
Society should stop questioning the ability of women and focus on supporting them to rise to the top. On this important day, I challenge the Ghanaian woman to step out of her comfort zone and take up roles that are widely perceived to be male domains.
The achievements of Georgina Wood – first female Chief Justice; Joyce Aryee – first woman to head an African Chamber of Mines; Joyce Bamford-Addo – first female Speaker of Parliament; Betty Mould Iddrisu – first female Attorney General; Charlotte Osei – first female Electoral Commissioner, among others, should be an inspiration to all women and girls.
I am confident that Ghanaian women, if given the opportunity and resources, have the strength, capacity, determination and zeal to be drivers of change in this country.