How GenCED is Changing the Workplace Justice Conversation

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The Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCED) is on a mission to change the conversation around the workplace  by promoting women’s access to justice.

In a speech copied to Ecowas Business News during a consultation in November, Executive Director of Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCED), Esther Tawiah, explained that, even though Ghana has ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), inequality and harassment at the workplace continues to persist.

It is a well-known fact that, the 1992 constitution ensures the protection of the fundamental human rights of all persons and specifically outlines equality and freedom from discrimination. The Labour Act of 2003 (Act 651), sections 55-57, provide maternity protection before and after birth for women, yet there remain records of women in both public and private sectors signing illegal documents that deter them from procreation for the first 2 to 3 years of their employment.

It will be recalled how the recent case of the dismissed three fire service personnel for giving birth in the first three years of their employ is a case in point, and remind ourselves of how it assumed national prominence earlier in the year for the manner in which the women were treated.

The biggest take-away from that case was the compelling reminder, and cautionary tale of how Ghana still has a long way to go in achieving gender equality, particularly at the workplace.

To this end, a national Dialogue was convened on 14 December to help address these issues more concretely. The objective of the Forum was to solicit views from the public, including experiences, to help inform a more coherent conversation around workplace injustice.

At the Forum-proper, Commissioner for CHRAJ, Whittal, highlighted aspects of the Labour law, explaining how the International Labour Organisation (ILO) remains a strong defenders of workplace rights for women. He further lamented how many workers are clueless about these rights, and called for more people to build their knowledge on worker’s rights as there is a recognition of historical gender inequality at the world of work.

He bemoaned how many women have limited knowledge of workplace rights, and therefore are unable to enforce it. He, therefore, called on police service; prison service and rest of force workers to immediately call for a review of their laws.

Mrs. Alberta Laryea Gyan of TUC recommended women report abortions to the TUC and Labour Commissions. She wondered whether organisations had forgotten that if a woman decided not to give birth, a nation would be non-existent, so why were such illegalities of sacking pregnant women prevalent.

For Esther Tawiah’s part, she explained the work does not stop with a single Dialogue, but a hotline would soon be announced.

Source:: E. K. Bensah Jr

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