The Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), Ghana chapter under its Women’s Voice and Leadership Project (WVL), with support from Plan Canada and Plan Ghana held a three-day capacity building training on CEDAW Convention, Maputo Protocol and ECOWAS Supplementary Act on Gender Equality for 25 selected leaders of local and regional women’s rights organizations (WROs), CSOs, Coalitions and Networks across the country.
The initiative dubbed: “The 3-day Residential Training on the CEDAW Convention, Maputo Protocol and ECOWAS Supplementary Act on Gender Equality aims to strengthen the capacities of the participants, empower women and girls, advance the protection of women’s rights and girls’ rights, and to achieve gender equality in Ghana.
It was held at the Tomriek Hotel in East Legon, Accra, from September 19–21, 2023, respectively.
CEDAW, adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women. It aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and establish equality between men and women. It also commits member countries to undertake a series of measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all forms, including legal, social, political, and economic fields.
The Maputo Protocol, or The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, is an important tool for advancing women’s and girls’ rights in Africa.
It came into force in 2005 and, as of now, has been ratified by 44 African countries. Its main aim is to end discrimination and violence against women and girls in African countries and foster gender equality at all levels of society.
The ECOWAS Supplementary Act on Gender Equality is another significant instrument that embodies the commitment of fifteen West African countries to ensure gender equality in their national laws, policies, and practices. It works in tandem with international treaties like CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol to promote gender equality in the West African region.
The training program included various presentations and sessions about the structure, provisions, and application of these three key instruments.
The program aimed to capacitate its participants with a thorough understanding of these tools and strategies to effectively use them in different areas concerning women’s rights and gender equality.
The twenty-five selected participants, comprising of women leaders, advocates for women’s rights partners, policy makers, students and stakeholders across Ghana, were taught practical ways to apply the principles of these agreements in their workspaces, communities, and the legal environment.
There were also discussions on how to rectify any gaps or discrepancies in national laws and policies with respect to these international standards.
Hillary Amesika Gbedemah, Esq., a respected member of the CEDAW Committee, who took the participants through an overview of the Convention, its relevant general recommendations, and advocacy tools, sheds light on its primary objectives and the crucial responsibility all nations have in implementing policy and law that eradicates gender-based discrimination.
She emphasizes the significance of CSOs in ensuring the Convention’s success, given their instrumental role in society as a liaison between the government and the public.
During the insightful session, a legal luminary and an expert in international human rights law who also served as a resource person enlightened and equipped the participants on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) reporting mechanisms.
Mrs. Afua Brown-Eyeson who is also a board member of WiLDAF Ghana highlighted the crucial importance of understanding and adopting correct principles of reporting under CEDAW.
She elucidated that participating nations must effectively demonstrate progress and development in eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in their biennial reports to the CEDAW Committee.
She passionately championed the pivotal role of civil society organizations in the reporting process. According to her, these bodies can contribute extensively to CEDAW’s reporting by sharing minority viewpoints, shedding light on underreported issues, and compelling governments to take concrete steps towards gender equality.
Mrs. Afua Brown-Eyeson further underscored the role of better data collection, stressing that quality data is integral to reporting progress. “CEDAW reporting is not merely a procedural requirement. It is a tool for identifying and closing gender gaps and enhancing women’s rights,” she emphasized.
She concluded her enlightening presentation by encouraging all stakeholders to see CEDAW as a tool for gender-related policy design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.
She called upon nations to see the CEDAW reporting process on a broader spectrum, beyond just a statutory commitment, to attain the ultimate goal of eliminating all forms of discrimination against women.
For her part, the Executive Director, Initiative for Gender Equality and Development in Africa (IGED-Africa), Sylvia Noagbesenu, Esq., underscored the absolute necessity for the participants to grasp the implications of the Maputo Protocol.
She stressed the use of the Protocol as an advocacy tool for women’s rights and gender equality.
She further emphasized the key role played by these stakeholders in implementing, monitoring, and enforcing the stipulations of the Protocol, thereby ensuring the advancement of women’s and girls’ rights.
Under Noagbesenu’s guidance and expertise, participants gained a solid understanding of the Maputo Protocol. Her clear explanations clarified key factors like the Protocol’s advocating for gender equality and highlighting women’s rights, including the right to participate in the political process, the right to self-determination, and the right to live in a peaceful world.
Furthermore, Noagbesenu also highlighted the practical implementation aspects of the Protocol. She explained how civil society organizations could effectively engage with governmental bodies for the proper enforcement of the Protocol. She also illustrated the critical role data collection and monitoring play in ensuring the objectives of the Protocol are met.
The ultimate outcome of WVL Ghana is the increased enjoyment of human rights by women and girls and the advancement of gender equality. WVL aims to accomplish improved management, sustainability, performance, and innovation or local women’s rights organizations, enhance delivery of quality services and advocacy by women’s rights organizations to advance gender equality and enhanced collaboration, collective action, and innovation of local women’s rights organizations and platforms to advance gender equality and the rights of women and girls.
“Therefore this training is intended to create more awareness on these UN, Africa, ECOWAS Conventions and their reporting processes as well as contribute to building the competencies, and understanding of WiLDAF Ghana Network and affiliates to be more resilient and empowered in engaging and holding government accountable in fulfilling their rights”, Perpetual Tindana, Project Officer WVL has said.
Ghana ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1991 without reservation. It also ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW (OP-CEDAW) in July 2009. Ratification comes with an obligation on the state to take steps towards compliance in addition to submitting periodic reports. Following submission of the initial report, a State is required to submit periodic reports at 4-year intervals from the date of ratification. Ghana submitted its 1st and 2nd periodic reports in 1992.
This was followed by the 3rd, 4th, and 5th periodic reports in 2006 and the 6th and 7th reports, which were reviewed in 2014. In 2022, the Government of Ghana initiated the process to submit its 8th and 9th reports for review, but till date, sadly, there has been no sign of any such document to show.
WiLDAF Ghana as a National Women’s Rights Network has since 2006 led a coalition of Women’s Rights Organizations (WROs), Networks, NGOs, and other Civil Society Organizations to co-create and submit reports that shadow the state’s own, and participate in lobbying activities during the review process. So far, WiLDAF Ghana coordinated the Ghana NGO CEDAW Shadow Reports for 2006, 2011, and 2014.
Since 2022 WiLDAF Ghana has been leading a coalition of WRO’s, networks, and CSOs to prepare another report to shadow the state’s 8th and 9th period reports.
WiLDAF Ghana believes that through effective dissemination of knowledge and understanding of these instruments, women, activists, journalists and civic actors among others could be better equipped to fight against discrimination for the rights of women and girls.
Furthermore, these organizations underline the importance of leveraging these instruments to influence relevant national policies and legislations towards achieving gender equality.
This training workshop was a significant step by WiLDAF Ghana and partners towards fostering a conducive environment for gender equality in Ghana. It is expected that events of this nature will facilitate the effective implementation and practice of gender equality laws and policies based on international standards.
In conclusion, these three instruments—the CEDAW Convention, the Maputo Protocol, and the ECOWAS Supplementary Act on Gender Equality—form crucial frameworks for promoting and ensuring gender equality.
The initiative by WiLDAF Ghana and partners to educate stakeholders about these is absolutely laudable and marks a progressive step towards achieving true gender equality in Ghana.
Source:Joseph Kobla Wemakor|Newsghana.com