He-For-She Gender Advocacy Must go Beyond Accra
Despite the fact that humanity, in general, has managed to achieve monumental progress in combating gender inequality over the last century, it still remains one of the deep-seated problems confronting Ghana. Of course, some successes have been achieved, but they are not worth writing home about. That is the reason Professor Kuenyehia, a gender advocate, describes our progress as “slow and frustrating”. Other scholars, analysts and development think-tanks concur that it is not worth celebrating. Moreover, the UNDP and other international institutions have unsparingly bemoaned our insipid progress. As such, we do not need anybody to come and educate us on the need to do everything creatively possible to work towards achieving gender parity.
Therefore, I see the “He-For-She” Advocacy campaign (See: Government launches ‘He For She’ Advocacy campaign to reduce Gender inequality”, 14th December 2017, Ghanaweb/ rainbowradioonline.com) as a laudable venture in terms of achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. As a global development initiative, the He-For-She campaign admonishes men and boys to support women and girls in all their endeavours. It is an innovative approach to development, requiring people from everywhere to unite as equal partners in fashioning and implementing specific and locally-relevant solutions to issues militating against the attainment of gender equality for the benefit of all and sundry.
The above is the reason Ghanaians should make sure this advocacy campaign is not limited to only Accra. It should be taken to every nook and cranny of the country. We sometimes have the impetuous tendency of thinking that the only settlement in Ghana is Accra. A city-state of sorts! Innumerable development initiatives were introduced in the country in the past and were trammeled to only the nation’s capital. As a consequence, they turned out to be ineffective. We should not add this to the list. Our lack of extending such significant development initiatives to the Adukroms, Kofikroms, Nyamebekyeres and Zabzugus of the country is one of the reasons we are unable to combat simple problems that pertain to development. Take the issue of forced marriage for instance, it is no secret that some young women are forced into marriage in some areas, especially the northern part of the country. For female genital mutilation, the least said about it the better. All these serve as impediments towards achieving gender parity. No wonder our progress has been conspicuous only in Accra.
That is symptomatic of our lack of seriousness towards achieving SDG5 in particular and development in general. A campaign is launched in a ministry in Accra (Greater Accra Region) today, and you travel tomorrow to the Western Region and ask people working in the same ministry about it. Shocking answers such as: “I have never heard of it before” and “I don’t know anything about it” are obtained. Thoughts about such issues make one wonder if we are indeed serious as a country. The implication is that we have a long way to go in improving on gender equality in the country. If we are indeed serious about achieving gender equality, we should emulate other countries. We should put considerable effort into making sure that such initiatives and campaigns are spread to all corners of the country. That is what countries that have achieved progress in SDG5 do. They refrain from limiting campaigns to their capital cities. For them, confining such campaigns to only the nation’s capital and harbouring the fatuous optimism of achieving the desired results is the last thing any country which is serious about development should do.
Thus, achieving remarkable progress in gender parity needs an all-inclusive approach: everyone has to be involved, as the He-For-She initiative advocates. If we cannot extend this advocacy to every part of the country, it will be as worthless as the others; so the earlier we stop making noise about it, the better.