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Opinions of Thursday, 13 September 2018

Columnist: Pepper Dem Ministries

Kofi Annan: The women’s rights advocate – A Pepper Dem tribute

We woke up to the sad news of the sudden departure of a global icon and a dear son of Ghana, a diplomat par excellence, Mr. Kofi Annan. He passed on Saturday Aug 18, 2018.

Mr. Annan lived his life in service to Humanity serving in the UN for a huge part of his career. It was during his tenure that 189 countries signed the historic millennium declaration at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 to promote and achieve a set of eight goals to improve the lives of the poor and eradicate poverty.

As we reflect on his life and humanity, we would like to highlight some prominent quotes from Mr. Annan who in his line of duty advocated among other things, Millennium Development Goal 3 (Promote gender equality and empower women).

Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey, a prominent Ghanaian educationist once said, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (Nation).” Before the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan and the World Bank conceived of promoting gender equality as the smart thing to do, this prominent son has intimated it in the World Bank’s words “Smart economics”. As these high profile Ghanaian and African men, like several others saw this need, so do we hope that our governments would and other sons and daughters of Africa.

In the current UN Agenda 2030/SDGs the task is that we promote prosperity, protect the planet, and we leave no one behind in this venture. Women and other vulnerable groups are the other part of the population we must vigorously focus on to mainstream in our development efforts. In a 2017 article, Tyson and Klugman reported “Greater gender equality means a country is associated with better education and health, higher per capita income, faster and more inclusive economic growth, and greater international competitiveness.”

This is backed by a growing body of research which reports, “Companies with greater gender equality in their workforce and top management reap a variety of benefits.” Such companies are better able to attract and retain female talent, to motivate their female workers, to understand and respond to the needs of female customers, and address complex problems by incorporating more diverse views. Several new studies confirm that companies with more women in top leadership and board positions enjoy higher financial returns.”

As we mourn this global diplomat who spearheaded one of the creative and transformational agenda for gender mainstreaming, may we reflect on his words and take action in honour of him and the future we want and must have in equality.

“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”

“Equality of opportunity in policy-making is not only a human right; it is a prerequisite for good governance.”

“When it comes to violence against women and girls, there are no grounds for tolerance and no tolerable excuses.”

“Promoting gender equality is not only women’s responsibility — it is the responsibility of all of us.”

“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity.”

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