Accra, May 4, GNA - Mrs Gloria Akufo, Deputy Greater Accra Regional Minister, on Wednesday asked that vigorous education should be carried out to educate the citizenry, particularly women about laws that protected them.
She said human rights organisations like the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Ghana) could intensify their services to the people in that direction to ensure that justice prevailed in the society. "Very often, people being ignorant of existing laws, agitate for laws to be made, so it will be helpful when people are informed about laws that exist in our statute books for them to take advantage and seek the necessary help," Ms Akufo said.
Speaking at the launch of FIDA's 20th anniversary celebrations of Legal Aid Service in Ghana, Ms Akufo, a lawyer by profession, said FIDA's intervention in the area of providing legal services to indigent women 20 years ago, was a very commendable idea.
She said intervention paved the way for the establishment of the first Legal Aid Board by the Government, stressing that FIDA's legal services were the first alternative dispute resolution that achieved much success and also helped the downtrodden to get justice free of charge.
Ms Akufo commended the founders of the Federation for their role in helping push the justice system forward and for bringing legal aid closer to the poor in society.
Mrs Christabel Dadzie, President of FIDA, said their legal aid service was established to create a platform for indigent women with little or no income to seek redress for violations of their rights and to help such marginalised people to step out of their traditionally defined roles as partners and join the primary policy makers.
"Our work of protecting the rights of women led to the introduction of legislative reforms and the enactment of laws such as the Intestate Succession Law which provides better protection under our inheritance laws for children and women." She noted that men too had been benefiting from the legal services with lots of them trooping to the various centres with their cases for amicable mediation and solution.
She said from an average annual attendance of fewer than 60 clients in 1985, attendance at the legal clinics of the Federation the figure had leaped to more than 200 clients a week.
According to Mrs Dadzie, between 1999 and 2004, FIDA recorded more than 8,000 cases at the legal aid centres scattered in Accra, Kumasi, Koforidua and Tamale.
Cases recorded included marital disputes, inheritance and lack of maintenance of children, which was a leading issue. Mrs Dadzie announced that the celebrations would be observed in November with such activities as lectures, floats, sponsored walk and dinner-dance.
Mrs Joanna Opare, Programme Manager of the UN Systems Gender Programme, in a solidarity message commended FIDA for their noble work and pledged the UN's continual support to ensure that Ghanaian women were totally relieved of human rights abuses.
Mrs Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, Executive Director of the Ark Foundation, also called on all to support the celebrations by patronizing the anniversary programmes in November to encourage the Federation in its good work toward developing Ghana.