The International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8 every year, is a global event celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The theme for this year’s celebration is, “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.”
The year 2020 represents an opportunity to marshal global action to achieve gender equality and human rights for all women and girls since women have fought for a long time to be considered equal in society.
The world has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Efforts to promote gender equality have come a long way in gaining attention and catalyzing change, but there is still a long way to go. Women are now a part of the workforce, but the workplace can be a breeding ground of inequality and violence against women.
More African companies should step up gender equality initiatives. All employers should double their efforts to achieve gender balance and make progress to boost gender balance. They can open crèches at their offices to provide childcare for employees’ children aged 5-15 months and provide breastfeeding facilities for mothers. They should also aim to change the situation where males dominate the workplace by hiring and promoting employees, regardless of gender, and offering breastfeeding amenities on site.
Equality starts at home and a company’s parental leave policy should be inclusive to enable employees thrive and achieve their career aspirations. To overcome biases, job advertisements are now gender neutral to minimize the perception that a specific role is directed at a particular sex. Employment must be solely based on qualifications, experience and merit, not gender.
Unequal access to education, early marriage rates among women and family responsibilities must be overcome swiftly to increase the number of women in the formal workforce.
The NPP government had taken measures to promote the fulfilment of girls and women potential through education, skills development and the eradication of illiteracy for all girls and women without discrimination of any kind, giving paramount importance to the elimination of poverty and ill health.
When women are educated, they gain the guts to fight for their own and build the habit of speaking for their own basic rights. Women’s empowerment is all about equipping and allowing women to make life-determining decisions, at all levels in the society, and this includes raising the status of women through education, raising awareness, literacy, and training.
I commend the Nana Akufo-Addo led government for introducing the Free Senior High School (SHS) Policy which has offered more girls an opportunity to get secondary education, who hitherto, would have been drop-outs.
We must advocate for a “gender parity mindset”, a mind-set change from ground level to the top is necessary – there should be equality at entry-level positions, as well as in positions of power, since leadership should be reflective of the change we want to see.
I believe a conscious effort must be made by all organizations, public and private, to offer equal opportunities to both men and women. So, make a difference, think globally and act locally! Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.
Long live Ghana, long live women, long live the Women’s Wing of the NPP
Barbara Boafo, NPP-USA Women’s Organizer