Director for Plan International Ghana, Mr. Solomon Tsefa – Mariam, has called on the gender ministry, religious leaders and traditional rulers to help fight domestic violence and sexual abuse which is gradually creeping into our churches and workplaces.
Speaking at the 3-day workshop which was held at the M-PLAZA Hotel in Accra, he indicated that the purpose of the workshop is to empower Traditional and Religious Leaders from Ashanti, Northern, Eastern, Greater Accra and the Upper West Regions of Ghana working under the Girls Advocacy Alliance Project (GAA), to enhance and also champion the course of ending the gender-based violence in Ghana.
He lamented that despite United Nation's adoption on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women by the UN General Assembly, violence against women remains a pervasive problem worldwide.
The Director expressed deep disappointment saying “some of these ungodly act against children and women like sexual abuses, domestic violence and emotional torture, have unfortunately crawled its way into our churches, workplaces and even traditional areas, where most people are vulnerable”.
He disclosed that these abuses have long term physical and psychological effects on the victims, which goes a very long way to affect their entire livelihood and destroy their brighter future.
He therefore called on the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection to work with her colleague ministers in other sectors to help resource the security agencies, particularly the domestic violence and victims support units, Ghana Police Service to help stop violence against women.
Project manager for the Girls Alliance Advocacy (GAA) for Plan, Madam Anna Nabere, also stressed the need to train and empower young girls to be firm enough to protect themselves against Gender Based Violence at all times.
She maintained that, girls empowerment also brings to mind skills training, hence, there is a need for us to provide our women and girls with the right skills and information that would help them be more focus and determined in life to help improve their livelihood.
She indicated that wrong people are misled by the wrong information. Therefore empowering girls at the school level using models such as the champions of change model will help achieve their aim, adding that, training and encouragement would help the girls achieve not just education and empowerment, but gain employment as well.
She stressed that this project aims to promote equal rights and opportunities for girls and young women in 10 countries spread across Africa and Asia.
Below is a copy of the communique issued at the end of the workshop by the ‘Champions of Change’ (a group made up of traditional rulers and religious leaders).
- That Gender Based Violence and gender inequality exists due to traditions such as patriarchal attitude and deep rooted stereotyping regarding the roles of women and men and we call on the active participation of our Colleague Traditional Authorities and religious leaders to prevent the occurrence.
- It is imperative to denounce all forms of negative traditional and religious practices that affect the dignity, development and the rights of women and children in Ghana.
- We urge our colleague traditional and religious leaders to take steps to abolish all forms of traditional and religious practices such as Child Marriage, Exchange marriage, Betrothal, Elopement, Abduction, Domestic servitude, Female Genital Mutilation, Widowhood rites amongst others that violates the rights of women and children
- We call on government to adequately resource law enforcement agencies and other actors such as the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police service, Department of Social Welfare, Department of Children, and CHRAJ to be proactive in preventing and responding to the nagging gender based violence situations at the family and society levels.
- We urge all Religious denominations to support children born in Ghana, irrespective of their birth circumstance to have equal opportunities to inheritance of their parents.
- We advise parents and care givers to be more responsible on their children’s welfare and take steps to duly name and register their children at birth and also improve their inter-personal relationship/communication with children. In focus, family heads should abhor costly marriages and simplify the process so that spouses can meet the costs. Reproduction should be a woman’s choice, not her destiny, thus contributing to making marriage a blessing not a curse.
- We urge the media to do more to expose perpetrators of abuse against women and children in Ghana and persuade opinion leaders who truncate legal processes against perpetrators of such abuse to desist from such conduct.
As we pledge to champion the course of preventing harmful traditional and religious practices against women and girls, we admit that our show of commitment and resilience will be meaningless unless a synergic relationship is initiated with appropriate allies including duty bearers and rights holders on the issues at stake.
In conclusion, we call on the Government of Ghana, the MMDAs, Colleague Traditional authorities, Religious Leaders, the Media, Parents, Care Givers and all relevant stakeholders to help create an enabling environment for the general protection of women and children in Ghana in the light of their high levels of vulnerability – physically, socially and economically. Women and girls count in family upkeep and national development and must be counted as a matter of human rights imperative.
Long live Ghana
Long Live Women of Ghana
Long live children of Ghana
SIGNED BY: NANA OWUSU AKYAW BREMPONG
(Rep; Champions of Change of GAA project)