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Opinions of Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Columnist: SaCut Akaabitono Amenga-Etego

GrassRoots Africa hold workshop on Women and SDGs

Grassroots Africa, a non-governmental organisation working to improve the lives of the poor in Africa especially women and people living in ecologically fragile areas has held a two-day workshop on women and the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The workshop was held at the Freedom Hotel, Ho between Oct 9 - Oct 10, 2017, to take stock of the level of participation and the contribution of Ghanaian women towards the achievement of the UN- SDGs. It was organised as part of the women2030 project.

With the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)in 2015, a new set of development goals known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were drafted by the UN and ratified by all the UN countries.

Participant organisations all working towards the achievement of the UN-SDGs at the GrassRoots Africa HO workshop included Global Women Development Promotors (GLODEP), AMASACHINA,CIWED, Tamale, Lifetime Empowerment Centre (LEC),RONET Ghana, FREMWA/ACCESS,Ghana Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves (GHACCO),WilDAF Ghana, IMPACT Ghana, The Empowerment Institute (TEI), Janos Foundation, Oak Foundation, African Youth Development and Skills Center (AYD) and many more.

There are 17 UN- Sustainable Development Goals, each with a set of targets for countries to achieve by the year 2030.

The SDGs seek to change the course of the 21st century by addressing key challenges such as poverty, inequality, violence against women among others.

''Women have a critical role to play in all of the SDGs, with many targets specifically recognizing women’s equality and empowerment as both the objective, and as part of the solution’’ Hawa Nibi Amenga-Etego, lead workshop trainer, project coordinator of the women2030 project and executive director, Grassroots Africa told participants.

The women 2030 project coordinator also stressed the importance of the SDG 5 and 6. ''SDG 5 is known as the stand-alone gender goal because it is dedicated to achieving these ends specifically affecting women and girls whiles SDG6 is to ensure access to water and sanitation for all by 2030’'.

Participants at the workshop also identified some progress made so far on Gender equality and women’s empowerment which includes;
Improved access to education for Girls, a decline in the rate of child marriage, progress being made in the area of sexual and reproductive health as well as reproductive rights, drastic reduction in maternal deaths and so on.

Despite these achievements, gender equality still remains a persistent challenge for countries worldwide and Ghana in particular and the lack of such equality is a major obstacle to the achievement of the sustainable development goals.

The workshop concluded that in order to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls, there is the need to ensure that girls and women are equal partners to boys and men

Though significant progress has been made in awareness of the gender gap – from schools to boardrooms – it’s time to translate these into action.

Workplaces, governments and healthcare and education systems must be designed to provide a level playing field. And Practices that have worked already must be adapted more broadly.

On Sustainable Development Goal (SDG6) it also emerged that about 400 Ghanaian children die each year from diarrhoea, even more, die from pneumonia and about 23% of Ghanaian children suffer stunting growth (chronic malnutrition linked to poor water and sanitation).

Ghana is also ranked as the 7th dirtiest country in the world. 1 in 5 Ghanaians have no access to toilets and so defecate openly.There is 70% open defecation in northern region alone which reflects the significant national inequalities.

Hawa Nibi Amenga-Etego highlighted the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) intervention as ''a cornerstone of the gender discourse and practice on drinking water and sanitation as it is now widely understood that gendered behaviour in hygiene management is crucial to the sustainability and effectiveness of interventions in drinking water and sanitation.''

The WASH concept which approaches community level and in schools works towards facilitating behavioural change alongside participatory water and sanitation planning and implementation.

Grassroots Africa works to advance the human rights of the poor and the marginalised. They also seek to influence policy in favour of women’s equality and contribute to broader social, environmental and economic well-being in Africa.

They are currently implementing the women2030 project in partnership with the Women Environment Program based in Abuja Nigeria.

The women2030 project is being carried out in 52 countries across different regions of the world.

It is led by a coalition of 5 women and gender network organisations collaborating to realize the SDGs in a gender equitable and climate just way.

The coalition is part of a 5-year framework partnership agreement with the European Commission’s Internantional Cooperation arm (DEVCO) called “women CSOs implementing SDGs Agenda 2030”