International Women's Day in Ghana

08 March 2013

UNIC Accra led the UN system in a partnenership with the Goethe-Institut, the German cultural centre in Accra, to hold a discussion and dinner event to mark this year’s International Women’s Day.  The event was well attended by women and men of all walks of life including Members of Parliament, University Lecturers, Business Women, traditional leaders, UN staff, representatives from the public sector, diplomatic community and students.  They discussed issues on the history of women’s emancipation, the achievements, challenges and the way forward.

The nearly 4-hour programme began with a welcome statement by the Resident Coordinator, Ruby Sandhu-Rojon and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Hannah Tetteh.  The discussions were very interactive.

Some of the way forward actions proposed by participants were:
-To link the fight against Gender Based violence to the economic empowerment of women as many violence acts perpetrated against women and girls go unreported due to poverty
-To involve men all the way in the Fight against GBV
-A call to MPs present to promote the passage of the property rights of spouses bill when it is relayed before parliament
-A call to the media to do better than the usual quick reportage of GBV to conducting an in-depth analysis of the issue/cases
-A call to start training both girls and boys early from the primary schools on Gender issues in order to avoid current problems in the future.

16 days of activism: Visiting an “outcast” home

03 December 2012

They number about 600, including women, children and men.  They have come to Tindang, a small community in Gnani outside Yendi, out of fear from accusers who threaten them as witches and murderers.

As part of the activities to mark this year’s 16 Days of activism against gender-based violence, on 26 November, the UN Information Centre in Accra, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWAC) and other partners visited Tindang to spend some time and collect additional information on witch camps across the country. 

Tindang is headed by a fetish priest known as Liwunli Banenba, who as the Chief of the community, exorcises ‘witches’ and frees them from the bondage of evil forces.

Fati, who looks 75 years old but has forgotten her real age, recalls that she willingly came to the Tindang “witch camp” more than 20 years ago because she wanted the truth.  She had been accused of murdering her husband’s brother and even though it was established that she did not kill her brother in-law, she could not return home for fear of being humiliated and chastised. Today, as her eldest daughter, Sana, lives with her and cares for her. 

Another resident, accused murderer, Tanam, explained “I cannot farm nor go for water.  I am so vulnerable and depend on the services of others”.

These are just two of the many stories of human rights violations of people accused of witchery. According to Alhassan Shei, the son of the community fetish priest, when the women refuse to return to their homes they are left to remain in the community. 

While the visit aimed to find ways of eliminating such societies, the community was not pleased to see the outsiders because, according to Alhassan Shei, they receive numerous visitors from public and private organizations and institutions who promise to engage the authorities to bring water, electricity and schools. Yet, they never return.  

The Head of Research and Senior Project Officer of MoWAC, Mrs. Juliana Amponsah said the Ministry is aware of the existence of such communities particularly in the northern part of the country and efforts will be made to address their needs.  

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16 Days of Activism: Youth Symposium

28 November 2012

On 28 November, as part of the 16 days of activism to end violence against women (GBW), the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Accra supported the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affair  (MoWAC) in a Youth Symposium at the Walewale Senior High School in the northern region, some 106km north of Tamale.  

On the theme “Women’s right and socio-economic development in the home and at the community”, the symposium educated students on the socio-economic rights of women and raised awareness on the mechanisms for addressing GBV . 

UNIC National Information Officer of Accra Cynthia Prah provided an overview of the history of the 16 Days and the UN role. She said, out of every 10 women, 7 of them experience physical or sexual abuse from men in their lifetime. Ms Prah urged students to visit the UNiTE to end violence against women campaign website to learn more about global initiatives to end violence against women.  She also encouraged the students to contribute to the cause by volunteering their time to serve their communities, engaging and sharing information on GBV with their peers and organizing events in their communities.

There were also presentations from representatives of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and Action Aid Ghana. 

A short documentary on violence against women was shown for the students to see its practical effect on women, children and the community.  Students groaned and sighed as they watched women being inflicted with pain as a result of domestic dispute. 

About 190 students and 6 teachers were in attendance.

At the end, one student asked if they could report cases to the police, “[Does] the Walewale Police station has an office to deal with cases of domestic violence”. 

Another noting the need to sensitize communities wondered “how can one educate villagers about issues of Gender Based Violence?” 

To hear in their own voices the students' views on gender violence and what should be done to stop it, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Si6wZV6adXw&feature=youtu.be

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16 Days to end violence against women - launch

25 November 2012

On 25 November, Ghana launched its 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender Based Violence (GBV) as part of activities to commemorate this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Under the theme “From peace in the home to peace in the world: Let’s challenge militarism to end violence against women”, activities included a national gathering of community leaders and representatives from various organization, both private and public, a visit to Gnani outcast home referred to as “witch camp” and a student symposium.

The national launch was preceded by a procession of women representatives from the public and private sector. 

Women and men held placards some of which read “Lets all fight against violence”, “disagreements are rights of opinion” and “wife battering is not a proof of might”.  

Deputy Minister of Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWAC) Hajia Boya Gariba said that the Government is working together with stakeholders to eliminate GBV, “This 16 days campaign provides an opportunity to reflect on what the Government, in collaboration with other human rights activists, can do to account for and challenge the structures that allow the perpetration of GBV”. 

She said this year’s theme is most appropriate for Ghana due to the forthcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections given the link between conflict and gender violence. She urged Ghanaians to be peaceful and to learn from other countries’ conflicts that have led to atrocities against women and children and called on traditional rulers and activists to educate community members to abolish harmful practices like female genital mutilation, witch hunting, forced-marriages, inhuman widowhood rites and Trokosi (religious bondage).

In a goodwill message, the Northern Regional Director of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service urged victims to cooperate with investigation processes to assist in eliminating all forms of violence against women. Officials from UNFPA, UN Women, NGOs and other stakeholders re-affirmed their commitments towards supporting government through initiatives to end violence against women.

Ms. Cynthia Prah of the UN Information Office in Accra read the Secretary General’s message calling on governments to honour their pledges to end all forms of violence against women and girls.

While Ghana has had some successes in sensitizing the public to refrain from causing unnecessary harm to women and girls, violence against women continues. Available statistics from the Ghana Police Service indicate of the 12,906 cases of nationwide violence in 2011, 4,701 were assault on women, 376 rape cases and 1,175defilement of girls.

The 16-day long activities were organized by MoWAC in partnership with a number of organizations, including UNIC Accra, UNFPA and UN Women.

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