Mr. President, where are your 5,000 men?

President goes #heforshe

‘We’ve recruited some five thousand men as part of that campaign, as a basis for sensitization’. President Akufo-Addo said at the Women Deliver 2019 conference in Vancouver. The President was referring to the December 2017 launch of the campaign called #HeForShe.

#HeForShe is a United Nations global solidarity movement recruiting men to end gender inequality by 2030.  Its goal is to achieve equality by encouraging all genders to take part as agents of change and take action against negative stereotypes and behaviours. According to the #HeForShe website, there has been commitment by millions of men all over the world to this goal.

At the launch in Ghana, the President committed to the campaign’s three focus areas. They are: eradicate gender equality, end child marriage, and increase women’s participation and representation in political decision-making processes. From his speech at the launch the President said: “Today, I commit to giving full support to the three focus areas under the #HeForShe platform for action in Ghana’. With political representation, during the launch speech, the President promised to ‘pass the Affirmative Action Bill in 2018 and increase women’s economic empowerment through capacity building and a healthy business environment.”

Since the 2017 campaign launch, it appears that little has been done to fulfil the campaign’s mandate. It is June 2019. The Affirmative Action Bill has still not been passed, despite the President’s commitment.  We called the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection for additional details about the project in Ghana. We made seven calls to the Deputy Director at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social protection, but received no response.

Arguably, the most important action that can reduce the gender inequality gap is the passing of the Affirmative Action Bill. The Bill’s aim is to provide a 40% representation and participation of women in governance, public positions of power and decision making.  The current ‘Vigilantism and Other Related Offences Bill’, 2019 is already before Members of Parliament. This bill was introduced less than six months ago, and it is already moving through the house.

Does that mean some Bills matter more than others?

One other campaign focus is ending child marriage.

The previous government had a plan to end child marriage. It was called ‘National Strategic Framework on Ending Child Marriage in Ghana 2017-2026’ . It was put together after the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur revealed that 36 per cent of girls in Ghana’s rural areas were being married before they are 18 years old, in the urban areas it was 19 per cent. Have those ideas been adopted by the #HeForShe campaign?

Ghana’s president lauded the 5,000 men whose mission is to economically empower women, contribute to eradicating child marriage and increase the numbers of women involved in political decision-making processes. He did so on a global platform in front of a global audience.

The evidence suggests they have not done any of these things.

So, Mr. President, where are your 5000 men? The 52% would like some answers.

By: Theresa Adezewa Aryeetey and Kofi Boateng

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Joe Bright Nyarko Journalist/Communication Researcher. Environment & Sustainability Advocate. Managing Editor of aptnewsghana.com, a non-profit news portal with bias towards environment and sustainability issues, rural development policies and gender & inequality.