The training session held for the GDOs in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in Accra was to enhance their capacity to enable them to respond to gender-related issues and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence at the Assemblies.
The then National Women’s Machinery, National Council for Women and Development (NCWD) established in 1975, became affiliated with the Office of the President after the Beijing Conference in 1995 and operated with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The Council worked together with the Office of the Head of Civil Service (OHCS) in the creation of Gender Desks in all MDAs as well as MMDAs as a framework for handling issues of women.
Gender equality is the absence of discrimination based on sex in the allocation of resources, benefits, and access to services that allow human beings to be free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, and rigid gender roles, or prejudices.
Gender equity is the fairness of treatment for women and men according to their respective needs, including equal treatment or treatment that is different but considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations, and opportunities.
Madam Matilda Banfro, Acting Greater Accra Regional Director, Department of Gender, said Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights were critical for empowering women and girls and advancing gender equality.
She said a central component of gender equality was the ability of all sexes to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights to make free and informed choices about their sexual and reproductive lives.
Madam Banfro, therefore, underscored the need to engage stakeholders; GDOs, responsible for gender mainstreaming at the local governance level of national development to be resourceful and respond to the needs of adolescents.
She noted that tasks of GDOs had been performed mostly with capacity deficiency as they were appointed to the position as an additional responsibility, with many having little or no experience in promoting gender equality.
Ms Maribel Akuorkor Okine, Acting Western Regional Director, Department of Gender, said GDOs must among other proposed roles, advocate for the review of existing local byelaws and practices that were gender-discriminatory and contradicted national provisions and legislations.
Ms Okine said they must create gender awareness among officials of the MMDAs and the decentralised departments about constitutional provisions regarding Gender and Human Rights Conventions and the effects of discrimination and gender imbalance on victims.
She said they were obligated to sensitise women about their ability to take up more responsibilities within their organisations through seminars and workshops and assist girls to secure scholarships.
Madam Sheila Serwaa Ayiripe, Senior Nursing Officer, Accra Metro Health Directorate, noted that adolescents could experience challenges, including teenage pregnancy, teen fathers, Sexually Transmitted Infections, depression, and exposure to substances due to the changes at puberty.
She, therefore, underscored the need for family planning, which involved planning and regulating the number, frequency, and timing of pregnancy by using contraceptives for better reproductive health care and empowerment of women to complete their education and enter into a productive workforce.
Madam Ayiripe said it improved maternal and child survival, reduced the number of abortions, especially unsafe ones and enabled mothers to provide love and attention to their families.