Amnesty International (AI), a human rights organization, urged governments to respond to the critical gaps in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is a statement affirmed and adopted by 189 governments on September 15, 1995 at the fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China.
Mr Lawrence Amesu, Director of Amnesty International, Ghana, at a public forum in Accra to mark International Women's Day said to ensure meaningful progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there was the need for governments and related authorities to address structural human rights issues that affected especially women.
"Issues such as denial of sexual and reproductive rights, the right to be free from all forms of gender based violence, discrimination against women, women's unequal status in law and the lack of women's participation in decision making at various levels should be looked at," he said.
AI's chosen theme for this year's celebration is: "Beijing +15: Time to Address the gaps in women's rights".
Mr Amesu said despite successes achieved in various countries in terms of creating bodies and institutions that monitored reported and addressed issues affecting women, many people still witnessed gender based violence and abuses against women and girls.
International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8, every year to celebrate women's achievements and look ahead to exciting opportunities that await women.
Mr Amesu said this year's celebration coincided with the 15-year comprehensive review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
He called on traditional leaders and authorities to abolish all forms of traditional and cultural practices that negatively affected women in order to make the society a happy place for all.
Mr Amesu specifically called on the Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff and the High Command of the Ghana Armed Forces to investigate and make public the circumstances leading to the alleged raping of girls and women by some soldiers assigned to maintain peace in the Bawku ethnic conflict.
He urged the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs, and Ministry of Education to investigate alleged gender-based abuses against women and girls in some schools, colleges and universities such as soliciting sexual favours from female students in return for high grades.
Hajia Hawawu Boya Gariba, Deputy Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, said the Ministry in its attempt to promote good governance, had been working towards the achievement of proportional representation of women at the local level.
She advised women to put themselves forward to be elected into public office since they were excellent managers, judging from the way most women managed the home with very little resources.
"This will translate into the creation of a critical mass of women in decision making positions to serve as role models and to mentor young women," she added.
Mrs Janet Adama Mohammed, Programme Director, Ibis Ghana, explained that it was important for government to promote gender equality, saying "gender equality does not mean sameness but equal opportunities and equity for all people both men and women".
She said gender equality was a cross-cutting issue to achieving all the MDGs.The UNDP identified the need for sustained engagement with the arms producing communities, and for the introduction of innovative programmes to build awareness around the dangers of small arms, as well as to channel the energies of the producers to alternative productive economic activities. As well as small arms, the UNDP has supported the government to establishing a national conflict prevention programme. The components of the programme include the establishment of national and regional peace advisory councils, which perform the functions of early warning and early response policy mechanisms. The UNDP also offers other programmes of support which seek to strengthen the capacities of women and youth groups as constituencies for peace, as well as building the capacity of the chiefs for modern leadership.