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22.01.2011 General News

Three day conference of CMA opens in Berekum

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January 22, 2011
Berekum (B/A) Jan. 22, GNA - Mrs. Patience Opoku, Acting Director of the Department of Women of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs, on Friday, advised women to be at the forefront in the fight against cultural practices that put their life in danger.

She said the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexual infections among women could be linked to outmoded traditional practices, such as the widowhood rites, inheritance, forced marriages and the gruesome female genital mutilation.

Mrs. Opoku was speaking at the opening of a three-day annual diocesan conference of the Christian Mothers Association (CMA), in Berekum, in the Brong-Ahafo Region.

The conference is being attended by more than 1,000 members of the association and is on the theme "building a sustainable future with women".

Mrs. Opoku explained that women issues and roles cut across all spheres of socio-economic and political life, ranging from homes through local communities and churches.

She noted that, even though women contributed a lot in the upkeep of the family and was indeed the pivot of development, there were still some cultural values that continued to trample on their rights, which needed to be addressed.

Mrs. Opoku said various studies had shown that women face more challenges in their career at all levels, than their male counterparts.

"These include society's sex role stereotyping, which makes societies tend to, either consciously or unconsciously abuse our rights, and disregard our contribution to development to the event that some employers use these stereotypes and therefore do not hire women just to avoid the burdens that domestic responsibilities will place on their ability to work, as a child care, possible pregnancy and inability to work on weekends", she said.

Mrs. Opoku observed that, it was rather unfortunate that in recent times, modernization and its socio-economic pressures, were causing women to shirk their responsibilities of motherhood, by either neglecting their children or driving them into the streets to fend for themselves.

She deplored the situation where some parents sold their children into slavery to do dangerous and hazardous work, to the neglect of their education and wellbeing.

"This has resulted in the phenomenon, which we are experiencing in our dear country in the form of street children, child slaves, prostitution and trafficking, the Acting Director emphasized.

Mrs. Opoku explained that successive governments through the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and other development partners with complementing efforts of non-governmental organisations, had put in place measures to relieve parents of their burdens of caring for the family.

This she said, included policies such as the National Health Insurance Scheme, free maternal care as well as free provisions of school uniforms and books, desks and the school feeding programmes.

She said in the recently held District Assembly Elections, women who took advantage of the education offered through the ministry's efforts, as well as NGOs, became politically empowered and were able to take part, with some wining the elections.

Mrs. Opoku advised women to update their knowledge in various national and church programmes, which would help them to participate meaningfully in decision making processes.

"Let us go beyond traditional roles of being designers of fashionable textiles to wear to church and other functions, to instead, participate in planning of major activities and taking up higher executive positions that will allow us to be part of the decision making process that will challenge our faculties more", she stressed.

Mrs. Cecilia Ziem, Diocesan President of the CMA disclosed that the association had a membership of 1,852 and that two parishes were preparing new members to join.

She said the association organised capacity building workshops for members in Sunyani, Dormaa and Duayaw-Nkwanta to help the participants in skill training for their economic growth and empowerment.

Mrs. Ziem appealed to the various parishes to support the association in kind and in cash, to enable it to organise periodic seminars on health and other social issues.

Reverend Father Twum Obour Spiritual Director of the association advised members to pay their dues regularly.

He stressed on the importance of stimulating the spiritual growth of members of the association and advised them to allow the teachings at the conference to reflect in their social lives.

Rev. Fr. Obour urged the women to endeavour to send their children to school and guide them to unearth and nurture their God's given talents.


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