The Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU), has called on government to offer specific support particularly to women whose jobs and livelihoods were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Union, majority of women in Ghana work in the informal sector, a situation that exposed them more to COVID-19 infections, as some women in the formal sector such as the hospitality industry also lost their jobs.
They made the call at a post International Women’s Day Celebration organized by PUWU at the PUWU Hospitality and Conference Centre at Kasoa in the Central Region on the theme, ‘Women in leadership; achieving equal future in the Covid-19 world”.
Speaking to the media, Gender Coordinator for PUWU, Mrs. Joyce Maku Appiah, said although the pandemic imposed great hardship on every one, women were badly affected by the outbreak due to the nature of the work majority of them do.
She indicated that PUWU’s focus for this year’s celebration is to identify and highlight the achievements of women in the COVID-19 response and also identify its impact on work.
“We want the union members to reflect on how the COVID-19 has really affected the workforce. Once we have been able to reflect and identify the impact, we will be able to make provisions that will go to change policies. So this is the program to help us do that reflection.”
“From the statistics globally, everyone has been affected, but what the data is saying is that women have been more affected. Women also stand a higher risk of being infected with the virus because of the kind of work they do. We all agree Ghana’s economy is highly the informal sector and a lot of women are in that sector so it is likely they can get infected”, Mrs. Maku Appiah reiterated.
She applauded government for the interventions it introduced during the peak of the pandemic such as the free water and free electricity.
For institutions under the Union, she commended them for the shift system at the workplace even though she admitted those policies were not implemented specifically to benefit women.
“You can say that government has done fairly well to support women in the pandemic although it may not have come with a gender sensitive approach to the issues, but some of the interventions have gone to help women especially the free water and electricity because there are homes where women are single parents and they benefited from this. So monies they would have used to pay for these utilities are used to take care of the home,” she said.
The Gender Coordinator further urged government to work on the economy to make it easier for Ghanaian women to access jobs.
Creating equal opportunities for women at the workplace.
The Head of Extension Services at the Community Water and Sanitation Agency, Mrs. Theodora Adomako-Adjei, said the world has become accustomed to living with the pandemic with various policy directions aimed at minimizing the spread of the virus at the workplace.
She however indicated that the measures and interventions implemented were not done with women’s need in mind.
“Yes, there has been some general measures to stem the spread of COVID- 19. These include provision of PPEs, decongestion of offices, shift system among others. It is important to note that these measures or interventions are not based on the needs of women and have not specifically intended to alleviate the untold hardships on women. This could be because the already low representation of women in leadership positions in the corporate world has not afforded women the opportunity to be part of decisions of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts,”she said.
According to Mrs. Adomako-Adjei, because living with the virus has become the new normal, there should also be a new normal for women in the world which encourages the promotion of gender analysis of the effect of COVID-19, creating workplace environment conducive for women, creating equal opportunities for men and women during promotions, training and resource allocation, negotiating for gender sensitive Collective Agreements, understanding the needs of women and promoting women empowerment at all fronts.
She also called for a review of the Labour Act in the perspective of equality and equity, ensuring women participation, representation and inclusion in decision-making and ensuring full participation of women in the political, social, and economic development of communities.
Mrs. Adomako-Adjei further admonished those present to champion gender issues at the workplace to ensure that equal opportunities are created for women.
“As we move beyond the celebration of International Women’s Day, we should resolve to highlight and champion gender issues, create more opportunities for women and encourage dialogue with management of various organizations to project the New Normal for women in the COVID -19 World.”
“The COVID-19 has created a new world indeed, decisions at top management and board rooms should therefore be within the new perspective especially considering the impact on women and a conscious effort at understanding women’s issues at the workplace”, she said.
Also present at the programme was the National Women’s Committee Chairman, Mrs. Margaret Hammond who encouraged women to stay strong and focused as the world battles with the pandemic.
She also called on institutional heads to amplify female leadership in their various units.