15 August 2018

The Second Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Her Excellency, Samira Bawumia with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana, on the 14th of August 2018 launched the Coalition of Persons against Sexual & Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Harmful Practices (CoPASH) at an event held at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra.

At the launch, the UN Resident Coordinator for Ghana, Ms. Christine Evans- Klock in her welcome remarks stated that, the UN has been working with the government of Ghana over the years to create an enabling environment for the gender agenda.  She acknowledged that “it is therefore exciting to see the Second Lady of the Republic, championing this cause to work with Government and all other interested citizenry to bring high level advocacy to ensure holistic and dedicated response to address sexual and gender based violence and harmful traditional practices, and strengthen coordination among diverse actors required for sustained and meaningful action” .

The UNFPA Country Representative, Mr. Niyi Ojuolape, who moderated the launch said the CoPASH is the brainchild of the Second Lady and that his organization, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), based on its mandate is providing support to bring to reality the dreams of the Second Lady.

Speaking at the event, the Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Gifty Twum-Ampofo remarked that protecting girls from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and harmful practices is both a social and moral imperative. She reiterated the willingness of her ministry to work hard to end SGBV. She congratulated both Mrs. Bawumia and UNFPA for bringing together various stakeholders in the fight against SGBV/HPs through CoPASH. She said this initiative will go a long way to strengthen her ministry’s efforts to ensure a society free of violence for all citizens.

In a more intimate address, the Minister of Health, Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu told the audience about the non- violent posture he has against his wife, calling on others to emulate his example.

A surviving victim of SGBV, Mrs. Theresa Asare; a petty trader who had been married for 17 years with four children gave the sad account of her ordeal in the hands of her husband.

Chief Supt. Owusuwaa Kyeremeh, National Coordinator of DOVVSU made a presentation on the operations of DOVVSU and gave statistics on reported cases on domestic violence (DV) across all the regions of Ghana. In a stark revelation, she said, "a nine-year old girl had to have her womb removed because she was raped. “That is domestic violence!" She made a point on the necessity of having a 'One-Stop Centre' which will effectively enhance DOVVSU’s work by for instance, providing victims with privacy and improved services including counselling, health, psychotherapy and expedited processes leading up to timely justice .

For her part, HE Samira Bawumia was engaged in a tête-a-tête with the UNFPA Country Representative, Mr Niyi Ojuolape to explain the rationale behind CoPASH for the benefit of the audience. She expressed her belief in the viability of the collaboration with UNFPA saying, "I believe CoPASH will be the game-changer in efforts towards ending sexual and gender-based violence.” She formally launched the Coalition to an applause from the audience and called on all stakeholders to join in ending sexual and gender-based violence in Ghana.

The former first Lady of Ghana, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama both used the opportunity to express their goodwill to H.E. Samira Bawumia and pledged their support for CoPASH. They also commended UNFPA for their relentless support in tackling gender-related issues.

The ceremony brought together individuals, young people, the media, parliamentarians, religious leaders, traditional authorities and members of civil society. Also present were all the Heads of UN agencies in Ghana as well as members of the diplomatic community including the ambassadors for Norway and Japan.

The call for action was read by Mrs. Claudia Lumor, the UNFPA honorary Ambassador for Ghana. She outlined the next steps for CoPASH and asked everyone present to support governments’ plans and the coalition’s mission by endorsing CoPASH. She also asked the country to take bold steps to accelerate the plans for ending sexual and gender based violence in Ghana.