Women empowerment, critical to attaining SDGs

Bolgatanga, July 12, GNA – Mr Alosibah Akare Azam, the Upper East Regional Population Officer, has called on stakeholders to review and initiate interventions and policies geared towards addressing gender inequality issues to attain inclusive development.

This, he said, would eliminate all forms of gender discrimination particularly against women and empower them to contribute significantly to achieve sustainable national development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Regional Officer made the call when he briefed the media in Bolgatanga, as part of activities marking the 2019 World Population Day celebration.

The global event celebrated annually on July 11, is set aside by the United Nations (UN) to highlight key population issues and challenges at the global and national levels and examine the need to review existing policies and programmes to address them.

The global theme for this year’s celebration was “International Conference on Population and Development at 25: the unfinished business” while in Ghana it had been sub themed: “Reproductive Health Gender and Equality for sustainable development”.

The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo, Egypt and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, declared that women’s empowerment and reproductive rights are essential for the realization of sexual and reproductive rights.

Mr Azam explained that the country’s socio-economic development depended on the attention paid to gender issues and the programmes formulated to mitigate them.

“Generally, when gender equality improves, the amount of power within women to bargain and acquire resources that is desired, is likely to increase, thus, leading to increase in opportunities for women to make personal and social choices.

“Sustainable development, especially attaining the SDG five, relies on ending discrimination towards women and providing them equal opportunities for education and employment,” he added.

The Regional Officer revealed that the Upper East Region for instance, during the 2010 population and housing census, recorded over one million people and is expected to hit over 1.3 million with the growth rate of 1.2 per cent, adding that, about 52 per cent are women.

This, according to Mr Azam, does not correspond with women representation at the decision making processes, especially at the local governance levels, adding that, “the situation is even worse among the Assembly Members across the region.”

Teenage pregnancy, inadequate information and social cultural beliefs, regarding the use of modern family planning methods, were major factors that accounted for the rapid population growth the region and the country had experienced, Mr Azam added.

He said, “traditional and community leaders such as chiefs and queen-mothers, as well as religious leaders should serve as champions of change for reproductive health in their communities, mosques and churches by promoting reproductive health issues in their messages.

“The traditional leaders should institute by-laws in their communities to facilitate or promote reproductive health and abolish negative or harmful practices that affect reproductive health.”

The Regional Officer said family planning was central to achieving gender equality, women empowerment and reduced poverty, and advocated intensive education, especially in the rural areas, to ensure parents understand the implications of having many children on family’s resources and against the few social amenities in the country.

By Anthony Apubeo, GNA 

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