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Ensuring Gender Equality TIME FOR REAL ACTION - First Lady

General News

The First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, says it is time for government, women and gender activists to walk the talk with regards to ensuring gender parity.

The First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, says it is time for government, women and gender activists to walk the talk with regards to ensuring gender parity.

According to her, although free education is available up to the Senior High School level, it would only be meaningful if people took advantage of it.

Mrs Akufo-Addo is worried that more girls are unable to advance beyond SHS as a result of poverty, early marriages, teenage pregnancy, and other socio-cultural factors, explaining that it is in Ghana’s interest to ensure both girls and boys develop to their full potential.

“We must therefore take deliberate steps to do what others have done. We have the policies, we have the laws. We have the knowledge and we have the tools. It is time to act,” she said yesterday, when she spoke at a dialogue in Accra as part of activities to mark this year’s International Women’s Day.

“Education allows girls to be seen. It gives them a voice to shape their future. It gives that child the voice to say ‘no I should determine who I spend my life with. Now I know we will have a great discourse. That is good. We’ve been having these discourses for years.

But remember this, beyond the discourse is a young girl who is not in school. Beyond the discourse is a young girl who dropped out of school because her community does not see the value in educating a girl. Beyond the discourse is a child bride. Beyond the discourse is a pregnant school drop-out. So, let’s talk, but let’s come up with action,” Mrs Akufo-Addo advocated.

The First Lady said the nation would be moving forward if each parent ensured that he or she did something to get their girls to go to school and stay in school as well, stressing “each of us must determine to stop child marriages.”

“I believe in the power of touch. Determine to touch a girl’s life. Maybe, one life at a time is all you can do but the net effect of everyone touching a life is like the fluttering of a million butterflies: it produces energy that no one butterfly can produce,” she advocated.

According to the First Lady, a strong message of hope must be sent to girls and to local communities that every girl can be whatever they want to be and that every girl deserves to develop to their full potential which starts with education.

“If we don’t act, our free education policy may not mean anything to these girls and their future. I would not be who I am without education; neither would I be who I am today if I had been born in an environment where child marriage is the norm,” she said.

“Women must be seen. Women must be heard. We should get to that day when equality for women is assumed. To get to that day though, requires deliberate actions and steps. We have done enough talking. It's time to walk the talk,” Mrs Akufo-Addo urged.

She also mentioned the start of the ‘Reducing malaria and malnutrition in Priority Populations’ to improve nutrition outcomes for pregnant women and children.

Other women who have gone out of their way to make good their pledge to support gender parity were lauded for their spirited efforts at helping other women.

The First Lady disclosed how the 2018 International Women’s Day theme, ‘Press for Progress’ “speaks to something deep within me," declaring: "For me, it means that we move, in spite of the obstacles. That we push forward, in spite of the resistance. It means we do not allow anything to stop us.”