“My Body Is My Own”, title of the 2021 State of the World Population (SWOP) Report, brings to light the right of women and girls to own their bodies, decide when and where to give birth, and their abilities to make other sexual choices.
I joined the launch of the 2021 SWOP Report by sharing highlights of the report and the urgency in allowing women and girls exercise their sexual rights.
Women’s empowerment is a critical aspect of achieving gender equality and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls and providing equal opportunities accelerates development in various areas.
Realising the vital role of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) in Ghana, I paid a courtesy call to the Minister, Hon. Sarah Adwoa Sarfo to strengthen the partnership between MoGCSP and UNFPA in Ghana.
During the visit, I reiterated our continuous support for MoGCSP to enhance its coordinating role by updating policies, frameworks, and developing effective gender-responsive programming at all levels to improve accountability for gender equality.
Achieving the three zeros; zero unmet need for family planning, zero preventable maternal death, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices, means working with government, civil society organisations and private partners.
The role data plays in helping to deliver development is always crucial. Organized ways of eliciting critical data for development purposes like national censuses are even more welcome in an age where experts say, ‘data is the new oil’. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the intended census for Ghana was moved from 2020 to this year, so that the all-important exercise can be carried out with high levels of accuracy and also maximum protection from the global pandemic.
On Friday, I joined colleagues in the United Nations (UN), Development sector, CSOs and Government, for the launch of the census process in Ghana, dubbed “100 days to 2021 Population and Housing Census”. The keynote speaker at the event, the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia highlighted the relevance of data for informing sound Government Policy.
The new date for the Census as confirmed by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) is Sunday, 27 June, 2021, and for the first time, the census process will be digital–making use of emerging technology to deliver faster and more accurate results.
The Orange Support Centre (OSC) is born out of a collaboration between UNFPA Ghana and the Domestic Violence Secretariat (DVS) of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP). It is an effort to establish a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to address the needs of survivors of SGBV.
As UNFPA is committed to bringing to zero all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices especially against women and girls, the initiative will create a safe avenue for survivors of SGBV, to receive timely, coordinated, and reliable support, be it psychosocial, access to legal services, referral to emergency shelters and/or SGBV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
The UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, Mr Charles Abani in his remarks congratulated UNFPA Ghana for its efforts in the fight against SGBV through interventions such as the formation of the Coalition of Persons Against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices (CoPASH), reactivation of the SGBV Helpline and supporting DoVVSU in various ways to provide effective response to domestic violence cases.
“Fighting SGBV is a worthwhile endeavour as it saves many women and girls from the abuse they usually suffer. I congratulate the DV Secretariat under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and also acknowledge the support provided by UNFPA in the specific areas of promoting gender equality.”
Head of UN Systems at the Ministry of Finance, Ms. Gladys Osabutey, who performed the official launch of the centre, commended UNFPA Ghana and partners for the continuous efforts in the fight against SGBV.
“This facility will help clients to access fast and effective legal assistance, referrals to SGBV shelters and all other services without struggle, and this is very critical if Ghana wants to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”- she added.
The Orange Support Centre services will be accessible to clients through a multifunction range of communication;
Toll-Free Number: The helpline ((0800-111-222) is available for persons who need to report cases of abuse, get information about sexual and gender-based violence, domestic violence and or seek support for themselves or others who are facing any form of abuse.
Walk-Ins: Individuals can also walk into the Centre and ask for support and access services. When the OSC is accessed in this way, a case file is opened for the individual, the necessary details are taken and then the needed services provided.
BoaMe App: This is a mobile application and it is currently available on Google play store. The App provides information on sexual and gender based violence, allows individuals to report cases and access support services.
The event was attended by Heads of UN Agencies in Ghana, Canadian High Commissioner- H.E Cathy Csaba, The Australian High Commissioner- Gregory Andrews, President of the International Federation of women Lawyers Ghana, Madam Afua Adottey, among other dignitaries.
As I inch towards a second decade in the vocation of advocating for social justice, gender parity, maternal health and youth empowerment, I am constantly reminded of where some of the passion that drives me came from. With every sense of modesty, I like to think that the family I came from, (where among others, there are no household chores reserved for boys or girls) provided me with an initial disposition towards matters of social justice. I celebrate two of my Sisters (Sister Funmi and Sister Funke) who were solid examples of how systems of exclusion can be challenged with dignity and humanity. Sister Funmi is now late (God rest her soul) and Sister Funke will attain the 70 year landmark this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the whole world hard and has had ripple effects in almost every area of human activity, especially in everyday social interaction as we have come to know it. Despite the distress and discomfort it brought, we might also want to look at the positives it offered, for instance, in leading us to adopt cross-sectoral alternative working arrangements using electronic means.
The pandemic has equally taught us the need to put forward once again the basics of personal hygiene including: regular hand-washing, use of hand sanitizers and observing cough/sneeze etiquette. Thankfully, COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Ghana last week under the COVAX initiative and I was privileged to take my jab today. It was painless and the process, quite smooth.
Get vaccinated and keep protecting yourself and others. Until we get out of the woods, let’s continue to have each other’s back by wearing our masks, practicing social distancing and keeping fit through physical exercise.