President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has appealed to African leaders to, as a matter of duty, extend a blanket of protection for women on the continent and ensure that their rights are upheld and respected.
He made the appeal when he addressed the Gender and Development Initiative for Africa (GADIA) presidential event dubbed: ‘The Status of African Female Refugees and Displaced Persons’ on the theme: “Moving from Surviving to Thriving”, at the British Council.
In his address, the President noted that: “According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, women and girls make up around 50% of any refugee, internally displaced or stateless population. In these statistics, we are told that Africa is home to a third of the world’s refugee population with the highest proportion being female refugees, that is some 59%.
“The continent has done itself, past and present generations, a great disservice by leaving women displaced and out of the agenda for development. We have a duty to extend a blanket of protection to all women and to ensure that upholding their rights is the bedrock for equality and social justice,” Nana Akufo-Addo said.
The Four Point Proposal
The President, in his speech, laid bare a four-point agenda that he believes can transform the African continent and put her on a path to prosperity.
Firstly, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that the continent must shed its image of instability and overcome the wars that have plagued it for so long.
“We must prioritise the establishment of a peaceful atmosphere on the continent,” he pointed out.
Secondly, the President said the continent must get its politics right. “The fight between various political groupings after independence have often turned out to be more vicious than the fight to throw out the colonialists and imperialists,” he observed.
Thirdly, he indicated that “conflict these days is not the only reason for the exodus of our people from their homes.” The continent, he says, “must, as a matter of urgency, undertake the task of changing the structures of its economies which over the years have been dependent on the export of raw materials.”
“These economies, such economies cannot produce wealth and prosperity for the masses on the continent. The only way to ensuring prosperity in Africa is through value addition activities, transformed and diversified modern economies, in other words, the industrial development of our continent so we can generate the thousands and thousands of good paying jobs for our men and women,” President Akufo-Addo stated.
Lastly, the African Union Gender Champion said: “If the noble goals of the SDGs are to ensure that no one is left behind and amongst others, ensure gender equality and full female empowerment, then we must seek to empower those left behind as a result of conflicts.” He added that: “We should be minded by the fact that we can never achieve the Africa we want, the theme of AU agenda 2063, without ensuring the protection of women and girls in our respective Nation states”.
In order to drive the AU’s agenda on gender equality and women’s empowerment, the AU Chairperson for the year 2017, Prof. Alpha Conde, President of Guinea, appointed Nana Akufo-Addo, as the African Union’s Champion for Gender and Development issues.
As part of his vision for the role, the President of Ghana launched the Gender and Development Initiative for Africa (GADIA). GADIA is the unprecedented flagship programme and implementation vehicle for the President’s Gender and Development Championship.
GADIA is built upon the pillars of enhancing women’s economic empowerment through the private sector and increasing women’s political participation. Through these two interlinked thematic areas, GADIA will address the myriad of issues that disproportionately affect women’s representation, participation and leadership in business and politics.