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.
The Government of Australia is a huge supporter of the work of UNFPA across the world, including in Ghana. Australia is a core contributor of funds to the organization. Over the years, the High Commission in Ghana has offered support for ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and promoting women’s rights as a result.
On Tuesday, 16 February 2021, I paid a courtesy call on the Australian High Commissioner, H.E Gregory Andrews to bring him up to speed on the work we have been doing and to mutually renew commitments to each other in our quest to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Women and girls’ rights are named as one of the six investment priorities of Australia’s foreign investment policy, with specific areas of collaboration including population data, family planning, and safe motherhood, HIV/AIDS prevention, ending gender-based violence and promoting disability- inclusive development.
Our discussions centered on possible collaborations with the High Commission in Ghana to achieve these transformative goals and promote gender equality.
To build a more solid partnership and mutually deploy the power of the media to inform and educate the general public, I paid a courtesy call on the Office of the Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Professor Amin Alhassan.
I took the opportunity to highlight the three (3) transformative goals of UNFPA which seeks to achieve:
Zero (0) Preventable maternal deaths
Zero (0) Unmet need for Family Planning, and;
Zero (0) Sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices
The DG of GBC on his part welcomed the partnership and made it clear that his outfit exists to promote development through Journalism and are ever willing to lend support to the work of UNFPA in Ghana.
Faith-based organisations have the power to effect change in local communities, including promoting reproductive health and rights, gender equality, and population and development issues.
Joining the advocacy dialogue with muslim leaders on teenage pregnancy and sexual and gender-based violence, I reiterated the importance of understanding the role as religious leaders and Muslim leaders specifically in preventing maternal deaths and adolescent pregnancy; ending obstetric fistula; increasing access to family planning; ending child marriage in Ghana; advocating for the prevention and management of sexual and gender based violence; implementing community based interventions relating to the dynamics between social norms and religious beliefs; being a voice of the voiceless; and development of action plans.
It has been proven without exception that countries that pursued strategies providing the opportunities to their adolescent populations when they were at this stage of their demographic transitions were able to lift their economies out of poverty.
Climaxing its 16 days of activism against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) on Thursday 10th December, 2020, in Accra, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in an exhibition expatiated on cases of violence where victims also shared their experiences.
The campaign spotlights the actions being taken to end this global scourge, which is one of the most pervasive human rights abuses in the world.
16 days of activism run from 25th November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, through to 10th December, Human Rights Day.
In his Welcome address, Mr. Niyi Ojuolape, Country Representative of UNFPA Ghana, expressed his profound gratitude to the youth for participating in the campaign and for expressing their enthusiasm in fighting against SGBV.
He therefore explained that, SGBV is a silent pandemic that is raging within the country, however, It is time for everyone to rise and collectively put a stop to it.
According to Mr. Ojuolape, UNFPA partnered with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) and others partners to present a united front to combat this pandemic.
“We all have a role to play, so when you see a situation where someone is being affected by SGBV or a victim of SGBV, please report to the nearest authority so that his or her life can be saved,” he said.
To him, Since the beginning of the 16 days, that is November 25th, they had several activities to underscore the issues of sexual and gender base violence and the need for everyone to take action against sexual and gender base violence.
He also said, many people have come to accept the incidence of domestic violence and gender base violence as normal. So we have quite a number of victims and survivors of gender and base violence who even don’t report anymore, don’t consider the incidence as an issue anymore.
Mr. Ojuolape, added that, “There are others who also suffer in silence because the society doesn’t encourage reporting. So these are major issues that we have in our societies. So there is sort of comfort for those who are confronted by these issues like victims and survivors who also need support and help in different ways.”
On her part, the Deputy Country Representative, UNFPA, Dr. Agnes Ntibanyurwa, added that acceleration of actions to end sexual and gender base violence cannot be done by one single institution, it calls for partnership, as we are ending it in this youthful place with art designs very young and champions.
“It’s not men or women issue, it’s not girls or boys issue, of course majority of these victims are women and girls but boys are also affected and no single person should be violent. Human rights day is calling not into policies of super just, but asking to stop all forms of violence”.
To her, sexual and gender violence should not be a fight only for 16 days. Saying, “it should be 24hours in a day, it’s 365 days in a year, 7days a week, everyone must serve, my family, my colleagues, you and all the people we have share the same responsibility to say NO to sexual and gender base violence.”
The Chief Director of Ministry of Children and Social Protection, Dr. Afisah Zachariah, underscored the need to eradicate SGBV now more than ever.
According to her, many people, especially the youth, have been victims of this kind of abuse and thanked UNFPA and its partners for using arts as the new avenue to showcase the plight of victims of SGBV.