Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection.
Mr Speaker, the Statement was made in commemoration of the International Women's Day, which has as its theme “Be Bold for Change”. In Ghana, we have got our own theme out of it, which is, “Economic Empowerment of the Rural Woman: A Tool for Development.”
Mr Speaker, the International Women's Day was first celebrated in 1914. Eighty- one years down the line, that is 1995, the Beijing Conference gave more prominence to women. We have since been fighting; 22 years down the line, we are still on the struggle.
Mr Speaker, you would agree with me that women are a force to reckon with. Based on that, our first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah made sure that ten (10) women were appointed into Parliament. This gave encouragement to a lot of women, who have since shown up, put up their best and tried as much as they could to be in decision-making, and to be in leadership.
Mr Speaker, it is a fact that it is not an easy line to follow, but then we would want to state that we will not relent on our efforts in fighting for leadership and being in decision-making.
Mr Speaker, before I continue, I would wish to congratulate all the women of the world, especially Africa and Ghana, for being women in the first place, for keeping it up as women, for living as women, working as women and making sure that the world continues to grow with the help and support for women.
Without women, I can assure you, Mr Speaker, that no matter what, when and how we would want to put up issues, our economic dispensation will be a very difficult one. Society will not grow. This is because, at least, no matter how our men put it or struggle with us, we are those who carry the children for nine months and eventually give birth to them whether they are boys or girls.
So, at least, we have that strength, that natural energy, that natural power, that chance and that opportunity given to us to give birth to children, both boys and girls, and help in bringing them up. Although at the end of the day, Mr Speaker, it is realised that we, women, are rather seen to be on the lower side when it comes to decision-making.
Mr Speaker, in congratulating women, I would wish to congratulate the first 10
women who were appointed to Parliament, the former Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament, Mrs Joyce Adeline Bamford-Addo, and our female Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.
Mr Speaker, let me put on record and help straighten it up that the first female Minister for Local Government and Rural Development was Mrs Cecilia Johnson.
Mr Speaker, today, we have a Chief of Staff who is a female. We cannot in any way underestimate that. We have done well, and we continue to do well.
Mr Speaker, the first chairperson as member of the Council of State was also Mrs Cecilia Johnson. We congratulate her. We have our own Sister in this House, Hon Sarah Adwoa Safo, who is the Hon Deputy Majority Leader; congratulations.
I would wish to congratulate all the Hon Ministers who are women, and also to say that more grease to their elbows.
Mr Speaker, competence is one of the things that has been used against women. I have oftentimes asked myself the question; how many women have not contested in the primaries in all political parties in this country, and have not lost in the primaries and in the general elections? What has happened? Why are we told that we do not have the women, when we have them out there? We have them trying and struggling. We have them there putting all the efforts, and yet we say that we do not have the women.
Mr Speaker, I wish to state that we should be given that encouragement, opportunity, that chance, and be allowed to show how best we can lead and contribute to decision making.
Mr Speaker, we are in no way trying to take up the issue of what men can do, but we are saying, and I would continue to say, that what men can do, women can do and do it even better.
Mr Speaker, if we go into politics and we want to talk about it, I would want to state that politics is not an issue that any woman should be allowed to be pushed down, not to be allowed to show what she can do in the political arena — this is because, politics starts even in the bedroom.
Mr Speaker, I would want to say that, as a woman, one has all the opportunities to come out to fight for women. In this country, we have more than 51 per cent of our population being women and yet, in this House, today, we have only 37 women out of 275 Hon Members of Parliament. The question is; what is the problem?
We should not run away from the fact that some of us have a pull down attitude of our colleague women. Why do we pull our colleague women down? We should know and believe that it is better that one's colleague woman is in Leadership or decision-making, and that, one would find it very easy to approach her.
Mr Speaker, it brings me to the fact that we need to support the girl-child and the woman at the grassroots, give them education, let them understand — Let us empower them economically. Let them know that the girl is not meant for the kitchen, neither is she a child-producing machine nor somebody who should be left at the house.
Mr Speaker, we should be given the opportunity. Somewhere in the Budget Statement, I read, where the Hon Minister for Finance stated -- In the State of the Nation Address (SONA), I have read the portion where the President has promised to help in the area of affirmative action.