UNCT pays courtesy call on Ghana’s new Minister of Gender

UNCT-GH-Meets-Gender-Minister-2017-1(Photo : UN Ghana / Juliane Reissig)

9 March 2017, Accra, Ghana

Representatives of the UN Country Team in Ghana paid a courtesy call on Hon. Otiko Afisah Djaba, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Issues addressed during the meeting included promoting women’s and children’s human rights and addressing their needs on health, nutrition and food security, education, political participation, employment, social protection, child protection, HIV/AIDS, disability inclusion, migration, trafficking and refugees.

Welcoming the UN representatives, Hon. Otiko Afisah Djaba expressed appreciation for past and ongoing collaboration with the UN system to date.

Going forward, the Minister underlined the need to empower women, and to advocate to involve men as ambassadors in pursuing gender equality, and expressed her ambition to reach the poorest and leave no woman unassisted.

“Ghana won’t accelerate without girls and women. Women are the engine of growth in Ghana. There is a need for a paradigm shift of people’s perception of the role of women,” she said, and stressed: “If a woman is empowered, everyone’s empowered.”

Education was a key topic during the meeting, as it matters to many development challenges across sectors, and engages the cooperation of several UN agencies, including UNESCO, WFP and UNICEF. Despite progress registered in gender parity in primary education, the Minister underlined the need for more action, referring for example to the plans of the President to introduce free Senior High School, the need for capacity building for teachers, programmes for girls to gain confidence and to increase their interest in science, as well as improving school feeding programmes, and tackling teenage pregnancy, to mention but a few areas of work.

Regarding health, the Minister mentioned the need to focus on HIV/Aids and obstetric fistula, as well as education in these areas, in cooperation with UNAIDS and UNFPA.

In terms of governance, a focus area with UNDP, Hon. Otiko Afisah Djaba raised concern about the low number of women elected to Parliament – 37 women out of a total of 275 MPs – and said she is committed to working towards increasing that number to 100. She underlined the need to build women’s capabilities and confidence to be leaders in a male dominated society.

Finally, the need to improve coordination and inter-sectoral cooperation was addressed, for example between various Ministries, such as Ministry of Education or Ministry of Interior, to tackle issues effectively. The Minister called on the UN for technical support in the short, medium and long term, and shared her plans to organise a joint meeting with all Development Partners.

For the UN, gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Going forward, the UN in Ghana is keen to continue to support the efforts of the Government of Ghana to achieve gender equality and to mainstream gender in various policy areas through the expertise of the individual agencies as well as the inter-agency UN Gender Team.

The meeting was well timed, just ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, a key moment for the Government, Civil Society and the UN to jointly raise awareness of the need to tackle gender inequalities in Ghana.