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Regional News of Thursday, 11 March 2010

Source: GNA

Too many discriminatory cultural practices in Upper East - Mrs Awuni

Bolgatanga, March 11, GNA - Mrs Lucy Awuni, Deputy Upper East Regional Minister has expressed worry over the many discriminatory cultural practices against women in the region. The Minister expressed this when she addressed this year's International Women's Day celebration organized by the Action Aid Ghana in Upper East on Wednesday.

She indicated that practices such as widowhood rites, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, witchcraft, negative parental attitudes towards girl child education, women and HIV/AIDS as negative cultural practice that are against women's rights. Mrs Awuni observed that similarly there were very disgraceful and harsh widowhood rites for women and said such practices were inimical to the proper development of women and society at large. She urged communities, opinion leaders, civil society groups, traditional authorities and security agencies to collaborate to address these negative practices.

Mrs Awuni said government had taken certain affirmative action to address the negative cultural practices and mentioned the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, the Ghana Aids Commission, the Ghana Education Service, Domestic Violence and Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service as some institutions spearheading efforts to stop discriminatory practices against women. She entreated the participants to educate and sensitize people on the importance of the theme: 93Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity: Progress for All".

Mrs Awuni appealed to the general public to support women, who would be contesting for District Assembly elections to increase women's participation in local governance, which she described as poorly patronized by women. She commended Action Aid Ghana for complementing government's efforts in bringing development to the doorsteps of the people in the region.

The Programme Manager for Action Aid Ghana in the region, Mr Michael Lumour said even though Ghana had ratified a number of international conventions on women's rights it had not backed them with concrete affirmative actions.

He said available statistics showed that women representation in Parliament had been below 10 per cent since the inception of the fourth republic adding 93currently women parliamentarians represent just a mere 8.6 per cent of the entire membership of the house". The President of the Upper East Women Assembly Caucus, Mrs Stella Nayinbil entreated women to contest the for forthcoming District Assembly election.

The participants advised the women candidates for the district election to organize programmes to raise funds to start their campaigns in time and consult with community members.