02.09.2004 Regional News

Women's Manifesto document launched

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Accra, Sept. 2, GNA - Gender activists on Thursday called on all political parties to ensure that there would be at least a 50 per cent representation of women in decision-making in the structures of their parties by 2008.

They are also demanding that these parties promote affirmative action to progressively increase the number of women candidates for parliamentary election to ensure that there was at least 30 per cent representation of women in the legislature by the year 2008 with the number increasing to 50 per cent by 2012.

These demands were contained in a document, the Women's Manifesto for Ghana, launched in Accra by a network known as the Coalition on the Women's Manifesto.

The group is made up of civil society groups, gender activists and individuals engaged in promoting gender equity. The 74-page document, initiated by ABANTU for Development, a gender organisation, sets out critical issues of concerns to women in Ghana and makes demand for addressing them.

It also addresses concerns about the under-representation of women in politics, policy and decision-making levels in public life and life in general.

Political party accountability is a key feature of the Manifesto, as parties would be assessed based on where they stand in relation to issues of concern to women. The document touches on various areas of governance including women's economic empowerment, women and the media and women in conflict and in peace.

The Manifesto calls on government to "initiate a constitutional review process to be completed by the year 2010 to ensure that all constitutional provisions promote the principles of fundamental human rights and freedoms and economic and social rights for all women and men on an equal basis".

Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Executive-Director of ABANTU for Development, presenting a summary of the issues in the manifesto, said government should ensure that the Domestic Violence Bill was laid before Parliament and passed without amendments before the end of the year. She said the Manifesto called on government "through Parliament to pass into law a gender-responsive freedom of information bill to enhance access to information to ultimately benefit women and the marginalised in society by 2005".

Dr Mensah-Kutin said the Manifesto's main demands had been directed at the executive, policymakers, politicians and political parties, Parliament, the judiciary and civil society because these bodies were mandated by the Constitution to protect the rights of women. Ms Takyiwa Manu, Chairperson of ABANTU for Development, who launched the document, called on civil society and stakeholders to use the manifesto to organise debates to make an impact on the drive towards empowering women.

The first copy of the of the Manifesto, which has been translated into four Ghanaian languages, was bought for five million cedis by Mrs. Gifty Afenyi-Dadzie, past President of the Ghana Journalists Association.

The New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress also bought copies of the document.

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