WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WAYS IN WHICH THE GOVERNMENT IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY IS DOING TO IMPROVE THE STATUS OF WOMEN
* Define gender
* Briefly state problems facing women worldwide
2. Introduce Ghana as a country (cultural background, etc)
* State particular problems affecting women and girls
* Domestic violence
* Equal access to education
* Cultural practices such as trokosi and female genital mutilation
* State government strategies to try and solve the matter
* Introduction of the ministry for women and children??™s affairs (MOWAC)
* Minister made cabinet minister
* Since its establishment in January 2001,the ministry has embarked on a number of projects and programs to promote the rights and welfare of Women and Children and to mainstream gender and children??™s concerns in all sectors and departments at the national, regional and district levels.(MOWAC website)
* Things the ministry/ has achieved
* Domestic violence act
* National women and gender policy
* Gender affirmative action (university program)
* What it helps to do
* How it improves the status
* Send your girl child to school policy??¦.HALF OF ALL WOMEN ILLITERATE COMPARED TO A THIRD OF MEN
* What it does
* How it improves the status
3. Evaluate/ criticize the strategies
a. Affirmative action
b. School child policy
c. Ministry for children and women??™s affairs
4. Give suggestions for new things they could do, or new issues to address, and how they would help the country.
Gender inequality can be described as the unequal treatment of a person based on their gender. Gender is not necessarily only the sex of an individual but more specifically the roles assigned to an individual, adhering to the standards of the particular community in which they may live.
Many of the problems facing women are widespread and common to most women everywhere, especially those in Less Economically Developed Countries, (LEDCs). One of the problems women face is lack of access to education either though the availability of funds to take girls to school, or the conceptions that girls have no need of education beyond a certain level, or that their main focus should be getting married and staying at home taking care of their husband and children. In the present male dominated society the women are perceived to be the weaker sex and are therefore pushed down to a lower level in the society.
Particularly in Africa, there seems to be a vast gap between the women and men in the society, with women being seen as objects, or only being thought of as the home caretakers, leading to many other social problems such as the domestic abuse of women, and women not being recognized as being individuals therefore lacking the ability to take decisions in their own communities or hold positions of power in the governance of their own countries.
Ghana, being one of such countries is also subject to the same kind of perceptions either through cultural upbringing. The idea that women are nothing more than object to fulfill the desires of men has led to domestic violence where women and girls are subjected to various violent acts, including rape in their own homes.
Again, the antiquated ideas that women are not in need of education except that of the basic kind, as their role in society is only that of bearing and rearing children, and the care of the home.
Cultural practices, ranging from Trokosi, female ritual slavery, to female genital mutilization, clearly project the debasement of women at the grassroots level. These practices serve as indicators or the ???low status mentality??™ that women are subjected to as they are thought to not be able to have a say in their own well being especially in cultural practices that can be considered tradition handed down to the current generation, and essentially stem from the worship of pagan gods who devalue women In the society.
The recent realization that women are an integral part of the society and are great contributors to the development of the country, coupled with changing values spread through globalization have spurred the Ghanaian government to take several initiatives and formulate strategies as to how to raise the status of women in the society.
One of the government??™s main initiatives was the founding of a new area of the government that would especially deal with matters pertaining to women and children. The Ministry of Women and Children??™s Affairs (MOWAC) is the arm of the government and the ???National machinery for women??? that undertakes many of the challenges in raising the status of women in Ghana, and ???since its establishment in 2001, the ministry has embarked on a number of projects and programs to promote the rights and welfare of Women and Children and to mainstream gender and children??™s concerns in all sectors and departments at the national, regional and district levels (MOWAC).???
The government has further gone to emphasize the importance of the new women??™s ministry by allowing the minister for women and children??™s affairs, Mrs. Juliana Azumah-Mensah (MOWAC), to become part of the cabinet to further demonstrate that women and matters that affect them should be placed at a high priority, and more indirectly show that women can also be in positions of power in the government.
One of the maim achievements of MOWAC and the government in general, is the Domestic Violence Act, act 723, that was passed in March of 2007, which allowed for the detainment of persons who used violence, or other forms of abuse in the home setting. The meaning of domestic violence according to the act is,
???Engaging in the following within the context of
a previous or existing domestic relationship:
(a) an act under the Criminal Code 1960 (Act 29) which
threat or harm to a person under that Act;
(b) specific acts, threats to commit, or acts likely to result in
(i) physical abuse, namely physical assault or use of
physical force against another person including the
forcible confinement or detention of another person
and the deprivation of another person of access to
adequate food, water, clothing, shelter, rest, or
subjecting another person to torture or other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (DVA 2007);???
Though this was not necessarily an Act that was specifically vouching for the abuse of women, the percentage of all reported domestic violence cases were women. According to ground breaking research by the ???Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre??? in 1999, 1 in 3 women had experienced some form of physical abuse, sexual violence, and other acts of maltreat (Sam, 2007).
The Act not only discourages harm to be done to women, but has also seen a rise in the number of reported cases of domestic violence, as there is an increase in awareness as well as penalties for abuse make women more willing to report to authorities, where before domestic violence was seen as a private household matter in which the police did not want to get involved in (Sam, 2007).
The domestic violence act was part of a whole campaign to create awareness about domestic violence through publicity that included television and radio, discussions and documentation of abused cases. Through this awareness the public has been able to be educated on the value of women in the home and had perhaps changed attitudes and views about how women should be treated helping them achieve a higher status (Sam, 2007).
One of the main problems pertaining to the low status of women was the lack of access to basic education and higher learning. Literacy can be defined as those over the ???age 15 that can read and write.??? In a country with almost 57.9 % of the population being literate; 49.8% of them being women (CIA 20??¦), the government has had to introduce policies that would encourage people to educate their female children as they had received the least education in past years in order to eliminate the gender disparities between male and female children I terms of education.
The ???send your girl child to school??? campaign was introduced, creating awareness of the need for the education of both sexes particularly the girls using posters, TV, and radio adverts. Such an initiative was implemented to provide even the most uneducated of parents??™ information that would encourage them to consider the importance of sending their female children to school. With this initiative, the government attempted to raise the status of women by allowing access to education that they had long been deprived of by males in the society, and also helped to change mentalities about educating children. The more girls that were enrolled at the basic school level, the higher their changes of moving on to the secondary school and on to receive tertiary education (ECOSOC, 2007).
A special unit was introduced in 1997 to ???give special emphasis to girls education in order to provide equal access to education and educational opportunities, and to improve the status of women and girls.???? The unit however faced many challenges including the number of girls that were taken out of school because they had duties to attend to at home, getting more girls to complete the transition from primary to secondary school, and ???implementing strategies for gender equality in education that take into account the need for changes in attitudes, values and cultural practices.??? In addition to that, parents and the community also had to be educated about the importance of female education (ECOSOC, 2007).
To encourage a higher number of girls to enroll, scholarship programs at the regional and national level as well as ???gender differentiated capitation grants that provide[s] relatively higher levels of funding or female pupils to address gender disparities??? were implemented to allow a greater access to higher education through more funding (ECOSOC, 2007).
In addition to more funding, measures were taking to make the schooling environment more conducive for girls such as providing the necessary sanitation for the female pupils, and encouraging more female teachers to join the workforce in order to be role models for the girls at school, and provide the needed support and encouragement necessary to teach girls, that male teachers may not necessarily be able to give (ECOSOC, 2007).
As an added incentive school materials were given in the form of schoolbags, stationery and uniforms to support those who may have not been able to afford the items despite the free cost of schooling for their charges (ECOSOC, 2007).
The send your girl child to schools??™ main role in raising the status of women is in the improvement and increase of literacy rates among women in the country. A third of all the women in Ghana are illiterate as compared to only half of men (UN, 2006). This means that already women are at a disadvantage as they cannot acquire well paying jobs to be able to support themselves, and often have to rely on the males in their community, or small jobs in the informal sector to be able to cater to their needs.
An increase in the number of female children however would drastically decrease the illiteracy rates among women. With education comes an elevated status and respect. As more women are educated they are able to get jobs and are able to be independent raising their status in the society as income earners, and are seen as more significant contributors to the economy of the country.
Similarly, to promote higher level education in women, the government of Ghana, through the government run University of Accra, Legon, introduced the affirmative action policy whereby the aggregate threshold was slightly lowered for female students by one, in order to have more women enter with lower grades. This was to ensure that enough of the female students were given a chance to higher institutions of learning and were elevated to the same platform as their male counterparts (Kwapom, 2007).
As part of the policy, it was also ensured that of all the incoming students that were to be accepted into that year, 40 percent of them had to be women, allowing a higher percentage of female students an opportunity to get a higher level of education and go on to gain access to well paying jobs that would elevate their status in the society (Admissions Office, Legon).
Though some of the initiatives above have been taken to improve the status of women, the perception of women may still be low and some of the issues may have not yet been solved, and the strategies have come into contact with a lot of challenges that are making implementation difficult.
One of the problems that MOWAC faces is not receiving enough attention from the government in terms of funding, and slow legislature in passing policies and acts. The domestic violence act for example passed through many obstacles, where it was lobbied and rejected several times before it was finally able to be passed. Such procedures hinder the activity of the group when their ideas take long to take form. it does not help that women are poorly represented in the parliament, and are often unable to make a difference in the decision making process.
On the whole, the affirmative action is policy is quite effective, but one flaw is that it does not cater for life outside the university in the working world. It is true that through the policy more women are able to have access to a higher level of learning; but to what end Most of the time young women go out to try and find jobs, and often find that they are beaten out by their male classmates. Those who are able to receive employment suffer from gender discrimination in the work place, where their work is not deemed to be at the same level of quality of a man??™s, or are paid less for the same job just because of their gender. At times female workers are even subjected to various forms of harassment at the work place by their male colleagues.
In the society women, though educated, may also not be allowed to or rather discouraged to assume positions of power in the society. This may still stem from the mentality that many people still hold that men are the only ones that can be leaders. With this it becomes harder for women to achieve goals that they may have to rise to the top in their professional careers.
Though the send your girl child to school policy has seen a large increase In the number of girls enrolling at the primary and secondary level in the public schools in Ghana, there is still an issue of girls having to drop out, or being taken out of school because they are needed to work to bring income into the family for financial support. Schooling may still be seen as a waste of time by many parents and guardians, and it may be considered more resourceful to get a job or to get married in order to support the family.
The main root of the problems still affecting female education, are the attitudes and perceptions that need to be changed in order for the literacy rate among women to increase a t a faster rate and to completely bridge the educational gap between men and women that has limited lower end of the society for decades.
The main strategy that the government has to put in place is the alteration of views about women in the community. Once women are given the same opportunities as men and are allowed to have a chance to work to the best of their capabilities, the female population can become a more significant contributors to the economical and social development of Ghana, and women and men would be able to work hand in hand bringing their qualities in order to promote development in the country.
Admissions Office, University of Ghana, Legon. Frequently Asked Questions. 15 04 2011
CIA. The World Factbook- Literacy. 12 04 2011
“Domestic Violence Act.” 2007. Ministry of Women and Childrens Affairs. 26 03 2011
Kwapom, Olivia A. Widening Access to Tertiary Education for Women in Ghana Through Distance Education. October 2007. 15th April 2011
Ministry of Women and Childrens Affairs Official Webpage. 26 03 2011
UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). “Education Sector Strategic Plan.” march 2007. Development Strategies That Work. 14 April 2011