Your Excellency, High Commissioner of South Africa; Your Excellency ambassador of Brazil and Deputy; Your Excellency Deputy Ambassador of Hungary.
Representatives of the Nigerian High Commissioner and Canadian High Commissioner; Ministers of state present ; Honourable Members of Parliament; Representatives of Political Parties, Religious Organisations, Trade Unions , Student groups and Civil Society Organizations, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I find it a great pleasure and privilege to have you all here at this historic gathering.
The POWA FORUM is a broad based public discourse platform designed to widen the existing political space for women in Ghana for wider inclusion and active citizenry participation through a conscious effort to offer public speaking spaces to progressive women rights activists imbued with believe in ordinary people, love for country and practical knowledge about inclusive developmental politics related to the social and economic empowerment of women.
The progress and status of women is intrinsically linked with the broad aspirations of all the ordinary and marginalized people of this country. Women have special needs; their condition at any time is the most accurate measure of national progress.
Women empowerment has no substitute. Women are the bedrock of the families, our communities and our nation.
There have been several laudable projects with respect to women empowerment since the 1995 Beijing Conference on women rights. This had focused mainly on reproductive right issues and economic empowerment projects.
These however were at the expense of the struggle for greater inclusiveness of women in the decision making process of the country. This is to mean lack of active participation in national politics.
POWA holds strongly that greater women representation in governance is crucial step in the attainment of gender equity.
The 2016 general election in Ghana marked another milestone of a generally peaceful electoral process and a smooth handover of power, climaxing two decades of multi-party democracy.
However it has also witnessed a sharp decline in women representation in government and parliament.
To achieve any meaningful recognition of women and women issues in the pinnacle of national life will require affirmative action. Affirmative action policy to bring women to the fore front of national life, particularly politics, will signify a commitment towards social justice, political and economic democracy.
It is much more than just symbolism. Affirmative provides the space for social education and re-thinking. It will contribute immensely in reshaping the public psyche about the potential of women in all spheres of life and a positive recognition of their status and dignity. It will motivate more women to stand up to the challenge of engaging in active public life, despite the cultural and social barriers; inspired by the example and experiences of other women.
There are fewer women in politics today not only due to social and cultural barriers but also due to the indifference of national leadership to women rights issues, which have been place in the periphery of national life.
The POWA Forum serves as a melting point of diverse opinions, aimed at creating a National Consensus on the means and of achieving gender equity by placing the issue at the Centre of National Political discourse.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe Social, Political, and Cultural Leaders have a role to play in the upliftment of women.
The POWA FORUM which is to be held quarterly in general, aims through discussions at making national leaders of all walks of life accountable to their responsibility towards women empowerment. This explains the broad representation of Ghanaian society engaged in this process and present here this afternoon.
This maiden forum, however, is to lay emphasis on elective and representative politics as means of sparking the deeper and broader issues of gender equity.
Women’s’ right are human rights, lets continue to be the mouthpieces for our Mothers, Sisters, Aunties, Girlfriends, Wives and Daughters.
Permit me to make mention of the special contribution made by Centre for Social Policy Studies, College of Humanities, University of Ghana, Legon and GHONE TV and EIB Network and the POWA team; who have all worked so very hard to make this maiden edition of the POWA FORUM possible.
POWA is grateful to all these distinguished speakers for not only taking time to come and speak at this FORUM but also indicating their commitment to ensure the sustenance and growth of the POWA FORUM.