Ghanaian Catholic Nun Encourages Women Empowerment to Foster Inclusiveness

Ahead of the celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) on Monday, March 8, a Ghanaian Nun says women empowerment is eminent to foster inclusiveness and collaboration among women themselves.

Sr. Dr Lucy Hometowu, the Superior General of the Sisters Mary Mother of the Church (SMMC) congregation in Ghana’s Volta Region said in an interview that “Working together, they (women) should raise awareness and create systems that allow them to grow, thrive and become who they want to be.”

The IWD is celebrated on March 8 every year to recognize the achievements of women around the world and call for the elimination of all discrimination, gender stereotypes, violence and greater equality for women.

The United Nations first celebrated International Women’s Day during International Women’s Year in 1975. By 1977, the UN and its member states proclaimed March 8 as the official day for women’s rights and world peace.

The African Women’s Decade was launched in 2010 to advance gender equality by accelerating the implementation of Dakar, Beijing and African Union (AU) Assembly Decisions on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the top and grassroots.

Sr. Hometowu, an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London said as part of empowerment, women together should fight for the poor, and marginalised, violence and sexual abuse in all its forms in society.

“Women empowerment is the degree of self-determination and autonomy that enables women to break societal barriers,” she said, adding that “It is their sense of self-worth, ability to determine their own choices and influence societal change for themselves and others.”

She indicated that “Traditionally, the social role of a woman is housekeeping, taking care of the family, and focusing on the children” but noted that in spite of this tradition “women continue to break the barriers that prevent them from participating effectively in societal affairs by entering male-dominated roles in key leadership positions including politics where their decision and policymaking efforts have impacted positively on society.”

Sister Hometowu lamented that “Unfortunately, our patriarchal societies do not recognize and celebrate women struggles and achievements as gender inequality and lack of economic opportunities still hinder their progress.”

“As a Medical Doctor, my own experiences as a healthcare professional in a traditionally male-dominated Specialty as Obstetrician and Gynaecologist was challenging but equally liberating and gratifying.”

She said, “Women are at the forefront of healthcare provision and contribute immensely to quality healthcare and the effective and efficient running of the healthcare system.”

She added, “My own experience, therefore, confirms my conviction that equal access to education is the only means by which women can get into and sustain leadership positions in society.”

According to Article 1 and 2 of the 1945 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political….”
This Sr. Hometowu, therefore, stated, “women need to be empowered to have access to health, education, economic opportunities and be free from gender-based violence, fear, and intimidation.”

She asserted: “Lack of women empowerment and gender equality results in lack of sustainable source of livelihood and job opportunities. It is also a major cause of teenage pregnancy and child marriage.”

“Early and forced marriages before age 18 is a human rights violation. Child marriage is linked to gender inequality, poverty, socio-cultural and traditional norms. Laws that protect the girl child are available but lack enforcement and implementation.

“Another serious concern is the violation of human rights due to belief in witchcraft,” citing a Ghanaian example that “it is only the elderly women and widows who are alleged witches who are usually beaten up and banished from their homes to live in witch camps under terrible living conditions.”

In 2020, Ghanaians received the news in the horror of a 90-year-old woman accused of witchcraft and beaten to death before a crowd of onlookers, who obviously, was unperturbed because it was culturally acceptable. Ironically, two women were seen in the video beating this woman mercilessly to death.

The SMMC Superior General stated that “Women empowerment and gender equality are invaluable in eradicating some cultural practices and violence against women.”

“Let us all continue to raise awareness, take anti-violence initiatives, and break the traditional barriers and bonds that violate the rights of girls and women,’ she advocated, saying “Living with the status quo is no longer an option if women were empowered and given the opportunities that enhance their socio-economic status.”
Sister Hometowu prayed that the celebration of IWD will motivate “all women to work together, stand up for their rights and create a world free of fear and intimidation, thrive, and become who they want to be.”

Source: Damian Avevor//

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