Over the years, efforts toward gender equality in Ghana have seen significant improvement in women participation across the various segments of society. An outstanding example is the political space, where a number of women continue to play very important roles, such as the current Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei Opare, at the Presidency.
Until recently, the immediate past Chief Justices of the Judicial Arm of Government, have been women in the persons of, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, and Justice Sophia Akuffo.
Within the maritime domain, although a male-dominated industry, there is a woman currently heading the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, in the person of Benonita Bismarck; and she is deputised by another woman, Sylvia Asana Dauda Owu.
For the first time in the history of the nation, a woman is at the helm of affairs at one of the major ports in the country- the Director of Port, Tema-Sandra Opoku. Within the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, there are other women holding prominent positions such as the General Manager, Cooperate Affairs and Marketing, Esther Gyebi-Donkor; and Mawuse Sapati as General Manager, Finance.
Further to this, the immediate past Alternative Permanent Representative of Ghana at the United Nation’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was Azara Prempeh, and her immediate predecessor, the current president of WISTA-Ghana, Jemilat Jawulaa Mahamah.
Ghana can also boast of female ship captains like Beatrice Vormawor, Catherine Haizel and Hannah Aggrey.
In the maritime security sector, there are quite a number of women who have risen to higher positions and achieved greater heights. An example is the first female Ghanaian Navy Officer in an ECOMOG naval warship, Lt. Commander Faustina Maame, a distinguished naval officer who broke the glass ceiling within the maritime security domain.
These are some success stories for women participation in high profile roles in the country, Jemilat Mahama highlighted while praising the country for strides made so far in the gender equality agenda.
Jemilat Mahama mentioned emphatically that Ghanaian women succeeded in achieving considerable levels of gender- equality through their efforts, efforts of the current generation of women and their predecessors who founded women’s organisations in the pluralistic society of Ghana.
International Women’s Day
In view of this, the Women in Shipping and Trading Association, WISTA, in Ghana is marking this year’s International Women’s Day in Takoradi under the theme, ‘Gender Equality today for Tomorrows sustainable Maritime Industry’ in line with the Global theme on Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.
The one-day forum will bring together women from all sectors of the maritime industry in Ghana. The objective of the forum is to recognise and acknowledge the contribution of women in the society and Ghana’s maritime industry in particular.
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the historical, cultural, professional(career) and political achievements of women. The day will also be observed in support of taking action against gender inequality around the world.
The theme for International Women’s Day, March 8, 2022 is, ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’, recognising the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation and response to build a more sustainable future for all.
The President of WISTA-Ghana said despite the fact that the number of women graduating from universities and other educational and training institutions with oceans and maritime programmes has increased dramatically in recent decades, their participation, retention, and advancement to leadership positions in all aspects of shore and ocean activities particularly the shipping-related maritime sector has lagged.
However, “there is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective approach to boost development of communities, businesses, and even whole countries,” she added.
It has been observed that, countries with high rate of gender equality have higher economic development. Companies with more female CEOs are more likely to outperform their competitors and peace treaties that incorporate women are more likely to stand the test of time.”
Despite these achievements by women within the larger society of Ghana, and in the maritime industry, there are still serious challenges that women face including gender discriminations, lack of opportunities, and social and cultural barriers.
Occasions such as International Women’s Day provides an opportunity for the global society to acknowledge the contributions of women to building societies and reflect on the social and cultural barriers that hinder women’s progress in society.
Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. The issues of climate change and sustainability as in the United Nations SDGs have had and will continue to have severe and lasting impacts on our environmental, economic and social development.
The adverse effects of climate change on the maritime sector in particular impact on dwindling fisheries stocks as a result of ocean acidification, rise in ocean temperatures. The high rise in tidal waves also impacts on ship routing and sailing. The impact of climate change on the fisheries sector which is dominated by women poses a major challenge for women particularly in the maritime value chain, thus, affecting their livelihoods.
It is common knowledge that women play a very central role in the fisheries value chain. Artisanal fishing and aqua- culture activities are women-dominated in most coastal communities. Women are increasingly being recognised as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on the natural resources which climate change threatens the most.
Addressing the needs and challenges of women is a central part to achieving greater social progress and development. There cannot be any sustainable development if women are excluded and marginalised.
Recognition of gender equality of Ghanaian women can be achieved through struggle and must always be demonstrated in the active role of every woman from the smallest family environment to the national and international spheres in the form of socio-political roles.
Let us therefore celebrate women by creating equal opportunities for our progress both at home and the workplaces. Today, we say Ayekoo to our mothers, sisters, daughters, and children all over the world.