Women in Law and Development in Africa-Ghana (WILDAF Ghana) recently held a two-day stakeholder consultation regarding the amendment of the Intestate Succession Bill currently before Parliament.
This event underscores the continuing strides made by the advocacy group in pushing for laws that safeguard the rights of women and vulnerable groups in society.
The Intestate Succession Bill seeks to provide a uniform intestate succession law that would adequately protect the surviving spouse and children of an intestate.
2008 saw the introduction of the first bill;however, it was abandoned at the conclusion of the year. After being introduced to parliament in 2009, the second draft expired in December 2012. A new Bill draft was introduced in 2013, and it expired in December 2016. The most recent Bill draft was from 2018, and it expired in December 2020 without being enacted.
When amended, it will take into account the changing socio-economic circumstances of the country and cater for instances where the deceased did not make a will before passing on.
During the two-day consultation, WILDAF Ghana convened a variety of stakeholders encompassing civil society organizations, lawmakers, government representatives, traditional rulers, media and legal experts.
According to the National Programmes Coordinator of WILDAF Ghana, Melody Darkey, the aim was to have a broader and more comprehensive review of the proposed amendments to the Bill.
“As the new Bill seeks to amend the problem areas of the old law, we at WILDAF Ghana hold the view that it is important for us as interested parties to take a look at the provisions, offer constructive criticism, and then make recommendations as a network for its consideration by those who are in charge of it.”
Acting Commission Secretary of the National Commission of Civic Education (NCCE), Lucille Hewlett Annan (Esq), presenting an overview of the Intestate Succession Law (PNDC Law 111) acknowledged its helpfulness in streamlining succession but admitted that it has outlived its usefulness having been in operation for the past 38 years when a lot has really changed, therefore there’s the need for it to be amended to suit the current trends.
“Prior to PNDC Law 111, women and girls were really deprived. Women were seen as property of men and were not recognized as beneficiaries to the properties that they helped create with the man, so the PNDC Law 111 came to recognize the roles of spouses, children, parents, and the customary, but there are certain difficulties that have come with the law over the years, and so with the Bill that is coming, it is going to streamline some of the problems that have emerged”.
Speaking on the subject of “The Law-Making Process in Parliament and Opportunities for CSOs for the Gender Equality Bills Currently in Parliament,” Samuel Obeng, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Network in Africa, noted that, in contrast to parliamentarians, Ghanaian CSOs have not exerted as much pressure on the executive branch to meet their demands. This is impeding advocacy efforts.
“I don’t think about bills that have not gotten to parliament; we are angry enough with the Executive Branch. I think the kind of pressure we give parliamentarians when bills get to parliament, if we did a fraction of that to the executive branch, including doing a full-fledged executive legislation advocacy, we will have gotten some level of advocacy results when they see that we are on them”.
An important aspect addressed during the stakeholder consultation was the need for the Bill to reflect gender-responsive provisions. Since women are often marginalized during the division of inheritance, notably in traditional communities, these suggested amendments could foster gender equality in issues concerning intestate succession.
Furthermore, the amendments were accepted as necessary to ensure security for the family of the deceased person. This was a concern raised by several stakeholders considering that in many situations, the families of the deceased are often left in unstable and vulnerable conditions after the death of their breadwinner.
Varying other perspectives were put across during this two-day consultation. These deliberations underline the importance WILDAF Ghana places on incorporating diverse views in improving the law to best benefit Ghanaian citizens.
In the end, the consultations delivered enriching and enlightening discourses contributing further insight for the Parliamentary consideration of the Bill.
From the discussions, it emerged that the amendment of the Intestate Succession Bill is not solely a welcome move, but also a necessary one in shaping an equitable society.
The conclusions from this stakeholder consultation will be presented to the Parliament. It is expected that these views will receive due consideration in the debates and eventual amendment of the law.
WILDAF Ghana is a network focusing on promoting the human rights of women embedded in international, African, and national human rights standards. Its core mandates include legislative advocacy, awareness creation, capacity building, and monitoring compliance with women’s rights standards. The call for reviewing the Intestate Succession Bill lines up with the organization’s mandate of legislative advocacy.
As WILDAF-Ghana continues advocating for the amendment of the Intestate Succession Bill, one can only hope that their efforts will contribute to the realization of a law that is fair and equal to all, regardless of their gender.
Source:Joseph Kobla Wemakor