The Member of Parliament for Afadzato South, Angela Oforiwaa Alorwu–Tay, is demanding of the government to publish its plans on how it intends to disband all witches camp and reintegrate victims into their community.
The legislator in a statement to mark the International Women’s Day celebration said, “successive leaders have spoken repeatedly about their commitments to get these women re-integrated in their communities, so these camps can be disbanded, but sadly, it has been a lot of talk. It’s about time leadership walked the talk.”
Below is the full statement
This year marks exactly 25 years since the adoption of the famous Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action–which laid out a progressive roadmap for gender equality and had the buy-in from leaders all over the world.
Unfortunately, over the last two and half decades, not much progress has been made. As a United Nation’s report published ahead of the 2020 International Women’s Day which falls today 8th March reveals, some 32 million girls are still not in school. Progress on women’s access to paid work has ground to a halt over the past 20 years as we continue to shoulder the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work. Nearly one-in-five women have faced violence from an intimate partner in the past year, fuelled by new technology, such as through cyber-harassment, for which policy solutions are largely absent. Men still control three-quarters of parliamentary seats world over and 73% of managerial positions are occupied by men.
Women constitute a paltry 13% of parliamentarians in Ghana although we are about 51% of the population. The percentage of female representation in the Akufo – Addo administration is less than 30%. And all over the country, women continue to remain underrepresented.
That is why the theme for this year’s international women’s day celebration: “I am a Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights” cannot be more crucial. Going forward, we need to see conscious efforts on the part of government and society as a whole to break down the barriers militating against women taking up leadership positions across various fields.
It’s sad that more than 13 years after processes began for the passage of an Affirmative Action Bill, no progress has been made. This bill which spells out a set of needed actions designed to correct the history of systematic discrimination and exclusion of women in the decision-making process, has been in the workings as a draft document for far too long. The draft bill which former Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Nana Oye Lithur worked on and got cabinet approval for in 2016 before the NDC lost power has not been worked on by the current administration for more than 3 years now. What has been holding its introduction to parliament all these years?
There have been too many promises on this bill by the Akufo – Addo administration that hasn’t materialized. When President Akufo – Addo delivered his state of the nation address to parliament on 21st February 2017, he assured the house of his commitment to get the bill passed. Even before he gave that, former Gender Minister, Children and Social Protection Minister Otiko Afisa Djabah gave a similar assurance when she appeared before parliament’s appointment committee on 30th January 2017.
When current minister Cynthia Morrison addressed a summit organized by her ministry on 26th August 2019, she assured once again that she was working vigorously to ensure the Affirmative Action bill gets introduced to parliament and passed. On February 11, 2020, when Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu outlined the issues the house will be dealing with before the end of the year to the media, he mentioned the Affirmative Action Bill as one of the key priority ones. So, what is holding it? The continuous delay in passing this bill is unhealth, backward and undermines the collective effort of Ghanaians to create an all-inclusive society. That cycle of plenty talk and doing little must end.
I cannot end this international women’s day statement without talking about an issue that really breaks my heart; the continuous operation of witch camps in 21st Century Ghana. I saw a documentary on the operations of these camps on TV recently and I was appalled by the conditions they live in. Such facilities deprive women of their rights to develop fully and freely and ends depriving their children of education, good health and proper sanitation. Sadly, a lot of the about 1,000 women who find themselves in the about six witch camps at Boyansi, Gambaga, Gnani, Kpatinga, Kokuo and Naabuli are innocent widows who have been wrongly accused of murders they didn’t commit.
Again, successive leaders have spoken repeatedly about their commitments to get these women re-integrated in their communities so these camps can be disbanded, but sadly, it’s been a lot of talk. It’s about time leadership walked the talk.
President Akufo – Addo and the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection should use this day to give the women of this country what I believe will be the most priceless gift we will be extremely happy to have; a roadmap to re-integrate the women in these witch camps and a systemic disbanding of the camps, never to be resurrected again. This plan should include:
1) the establishment of a national taskforce to lead the re-integration and disbanding.
2) a dedicated budget for the taskforce which will be multi – sectorial and decentralized
3) a reasonable timeframe within which the objectives will be achieved.
4) a comprehensive educational programme to sensitize residents in the various communities where these problems are endemic to desist from such cruel, criminal; and intimidatory acts.
These women don’t belong in these camps and we need to have all hands-on deck to get them out as soon as possible.
Happy international women’s day to all women. The world is so blessed to have you all.
By Angela Oforiwaa Alorwu – Tay
Member of Parliament, Afadzato South Constituency