Statement by Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister for Communications, at the 2020 SHE VIRTUAL SUMMIT

Distinguished panelists, CEO Glitz Africa and host of this SHE Summit, virtual Edition, Mrs Claudia Lumor; Moderator, and all of you joining in from around the world, Good afternoon.

I am using this opportunity to also welcome all of you across the globe to this platform. A platform where we will in a few minutes discuss the theme:  Resilient. Empowered: Her Rights, Her World as part of the broader subject of the 2020 state of world population report which aims at expounding the gender agenda.

We are living in very unusual times today. Never before has there been a pandemic that has disrupted life as we know it in the entire world for over six months, with no solution in sight. COVID-19 has changed the world agenda including the gender agenda and necessitates an urgent review of how we also respond to its impact on the rights of women and the girl child.

Gender equality is an agreed global goal under the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, which also explicitly calls for ending all forms of discrimination, violence and harmful practices. It simply means reducing discrimination to zero.

Yes, we have come a long way and made some progress. Women have improved accuses to education, healthcare, employment, appointment etc. and over the years countries including Ghana have made progress particularly in the area of legislations all towards ensuring gender equality.

Women’s rights has always been my passion and we have worked to ensure gender inclusion at all levels with varying degrees of success in Ghana and globally. We still have a long way to go. The pandemic has exposed many fault lines in gender relations and unwittingly highlighted the challenges and opportunities digitisation brings. How many children without access to the internet can study online as schools are shut down and what does that mean for the formal education of children lining in deprived communities? How many women with limited digital skills, lack of internet access or smart devices can work or trade or even communicate virtually? For the woman living in an abusive relationship who only got some relief when the abuser was away at work, the forced lockdown has exposed her to even greater abuse as there is nowhere to hide.

The world of work as we know it will never be the same again as more jobs move online and virtual working tool become the norm. How many women have the skills to compete?  Currently, as more jobs are shed globally, it is almost inevitable that women will bear the brunt of it as we work in the low paying, less skilled sectors of the economy and are almost always the first to be let go. The impact on families is imaginable.

On the other hand too, we have the chance to work flexibly from home, which is now the new normal and presents the best opportunity to earn a living and keep an eye on the kids at the same time. Families are spending more time that’s they probably ever have, together now. Children are seeing their dads!!

As a Communications Minister, I agree with the observation made in the 2020 state of the world population report which indicates that technologically, online violence against women is growing and young women are at risk. Internet technology is used in some cases to get young girls into acts that harm them. How do we use this same technology as a solution to such practices? These are very interesting things that we can use the SHE Summit platform to discuss.

How we meet the needs and aspirations of young women without exploiting them but empowering them to enjoy their rights will define our common future.

Together we have to get to zero; we have to get the right services to prevent, protect, care and empower women. A reason why the She summit platform is a wonderful one. We have to carry the burden as women first by ourselves and get the men on board later.

The computer is also the greatest leveler ever. Every country is the same size on a computer screen and we can expand or minimize it at will. So are we all, if we have the right tools to compete. We must give our women and girls the digital skills they need to be able to compete in the new world of work unfolding. We must teach them how to use the internet safely and practice cyber hygiene. We must have faith in our abilities and realize that the next person is no better than us. We must learn and then teach our children to have a sense of their own self-worth and not allow anyone to put them down. We must teach them to dare to dream and aspire to be the best, as the only thing that can limit you is yourself, if you say you can’t do it, you will never be able to. So YES WE CAN!!

Building resilience means taking the knocks but getting up again and again and refusing to give up. Learning lessons from every experience and internalizing it, filing it away for when you might need it, seeking help when you need it, knowing your own limits, being principled and dealing honestly with one another no matter the cost, lending a helping hand and giving because we are stronger together and doing so without expectation of reward, (don’t always be motivated by WIFM). wear a smile, even through the tears and live a life of gratitude, counting your blessings, especially those we take for granted. Never stop learning too. Empowerment is a natural consequence of this resilience when you know your own worth and stand confident, speaking your mind.

We have to tap the power of the next generation especially girls and young women so as to make a difference. I want to see a generation of beautiful, assertive, confident, intelligent, outspoken, passionate, and compassionate young women who are their sister’s keepers and watch each other’s backs. We are making a difference and will impact our world positively

Against my will – 2020 state of the world population report inspires us to be Resilient, Empowered because it is our Rights and our World. Let the She Summit continue the conversation until we find a solution.

ABOUT THE SUMMIT

The SHE Summit is a mentorship platform that gathers high-achieving women excelling in various fields to inspire and impart their knowledge into young women. This initiative is part of the annual Ghana Women of the Year Honours event – an event which celebrates women achieving great heights in various endeavours. Glitz Africa, the pan-African aspirational brand that empowers women is the coordinating organisers of this summit.

Under this year’s theme, Resilient. Empowered: Her Rights, Her World, the Summit is bringing together strong, resilient and empowered women to discuss issues related to guiding and providing women across the globe with beacons to enable them stand up for their rights in confidence .

Members of the discussing panel include, 

  • Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (MP), (Minister for Communications, Ghana)
  • Folly Bah Thibault (Journalist/UN Gender Equality Leader, Founder of ‘Elle ira a l’ecole),
  • Mariarosa Cutillo (Chief – Strategic Partnerships, UNFPA HQ, New York)
  • Claudia Lumor (Founder, Glitz Africa, UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, Ghana)
  • Stephanie Linus (Actress/Producer, UNFPA Regional Ambassador).

 

Partners for the SHE Virtual Summit (Series 1) include UNFPA and the SDGs Ghana - Office of the President.