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CSOs charged to engage faith-based organisations in championing gender equality

A programme assistant and country representative for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Jean-Philip Lawson is advocating for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to engage faith-based organisations in the quest to champion gender equality.

Gender equality now more than ever is suffering a great deal haven taken a hit in the past year in the midst of the global Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a period where many women have either lost or quit their jobs to look after their families, the numbers with regards to women in high and leadership positions are not looking good.

As a result, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) on Thursday, March 18, 2021, held a webinar on the theme ‘Beyond the Numbers; Assessing Women’s Representation, Agenda, and Leadership in a Post Pandemic West Africa,’ to brainstorm on how to get more women involved in a bid to bridge the gap created by a world dominated by men despite being the world’s minority as far as population is concerned.

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Speaking as one of the panelists, Jean-Philip Lawson identified belief systems associated with religion and culture as some of the impediments that have stalled women from rising to top positions in institutions, organisations, and government.

While stressing that he believes patriarchy, in general, is a critical issue that needs to be looked at, the country representative of the UNFPA in Ghana has called on CSOs to engage faith-based leaders on changing midst on beliefs that do no promote pushing women to take up positions.

“In a nutshell, we need to change the perception in religion, we need to engage the men, we need to laud private sector and then demand accountability from government so that there is more political will to implement decisions that they have signed onto,” Jean-Philip Lawson noted.

Adding her voice, Adaku Ufere-Awooner who is Deputy Chief of Party, USAID West Africa Energy Program urged African governments to engage the women-led CSOs in decision-making policies and also desegregate all economic data to ensure the gender ministries receive deserving funding to do their advocacy work.

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Just like Adaku Ufere-Awooner, Executive Director, Gender centre for Empowering Development (GenCEP), Esther Tawiah holds the view that young women need to be mentored by women already in high positions to serve as an encouragement to push to get to the top.

They insist that once that is done, more women will eventually get into leadership positions to help the agenda to bridge that gap created by the men.

For Human Right Defender, Farida Nabourema, the status of women is still very much deplorable and it calls for attention and action.

According to her, CSOs must hold governments accountable and ensure all the numerous mechanisms and treaties agreed upon to advance women’s leadership are adhered to.

She has additionally called on CSO’s to take advocacy to the grassroots and let people know how laws and policies affect the lives of women.

The webinar moderated by Omolara Balogun had Jessica Gaba [Senior project manager, Digital Entrepreneurship Support Fund, Ministry of Digital Economy in Benin] joining in with great insights as well as participation from people all around the continent.

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