Centre for European Studies Holds 8th Lecture Series

Director of the Centre for European Studies (CES) Prof Ransford Gyampo giving his welcome address

The Centre for European Studies (CES) at the University of Ghana held its 8th Lecture Series on Friday 5th April 2019 at the Bank of Ghana Auditorium of the Department of Economics. The event, which was chaired by Her Excellency Ambassador Alicia Rico, Spanish Ambassador to Ghana, was under the theme “Gender Issues in Europe: Lessons for Ghana”. It was attended by over 1,000 participants comprising students, gender advocates, women’s’ groups, civil society leaders, EU-Ambassadors, representatives from the EU-Delegation in Ghana, ministers of state, and media practitioners. Her Excellency Diana Acconcia, Head of the EU-Delegation in Ghana was the Special Guest of Honour.

Welcoming guests and participants to the event, Prof Ransford Gyampo, Director of the Centre for European Studies, University of Ghana noted that gender inequality remain one of the major setbacks to African development. Even though several interventions have been implemented since the Beijing Conference, Prof. Gyampo opined that the battle to empower women and to achieve gender equality in many developing countries in Africa and for that matter Ghana, appear to have been fought and lost. In the metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities where education seem to have thrived, the issue of gender inequality, according to the CES Director, seem not to be prevalent as several career and women elite are found in abundance carrying out work activities bordering on their daily professional lives.  However in the hinterlands of many African countries, he argued that, there are several gender issues that presents monumental challenge to the quest to achieve gender equality. Indeed, the biggest challenge for women today is that they do the biggest burden of unpaid work, such as going through the stresses of pregnancy, childbearing, caring for children, caring for the elderly, and household work. Yet they are also disempowered and relegated to the background when it comes to critical issues of decision making, development and governance. He stated that CES research on challenges confronting women points to the fact that, the situation in Europe is quite better than it is in Africa, and for that matter Ghana. He expressed the hope for an insightful lecture that presents lessons to address gender challenges in Ghana. He thanked the EU-Delegation for their partnership and support of CES activities.

The Chairperson and Special Guest of Honour took turns to commend the CES for its zeal and enthusiasm in promoting European Studies in Ghana. They both pledged their unflinching support for the Centre. The Chairperson noted that women all over the world have challenges that confronts them. However, how these challenges are tackled and the seriousness attached to the problem by policy makers shows the difference between what pertains in Europe and other continents, particularly Africa.  She thanked the CES again for the opportunity to chair the event and wish participants fruitful discussions.

H.E. Ambassador Alicia Rico, Spanish Ambassador to Ghana chaired the programme

Presenting the lecture, Mrs. Joana Opare, Executive Director of the Gender Planning Consult noted that gender equality is one of the fundamental values of the European Union (EU). The EU is dedicated not only to defending this right, but also to promoting gender equality within the Member States and across the world. The crucial significance of gender in EU development policies, according to her, is recognized in various policy documents.

Mrs. Opare stated that the “EU Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality (2016-2019)" highlights as one of its five thematic priority areas, the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights across the world. She outlined several interventions in Europe to empower women including work-life balance for working parents that makes a case for flexible working arrangement and family-related leave for women; the introduction of an action plan to tackle gender pay gaps; introducing the Spotlight Initiative to tackle gender-based violence; committing funds to support activities targeted at improving gender equality and promoting girls’ and women’s empowerment; adopting the “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment through EU External Relations” action plan that focusses on four pivotal areas as follows: 

  • Ensuring girls’ and women’s physical and psychological integrity
  • Promoting the economic and social rights / empowerment of girls and women
  • Strengthening girls’ and women’s voice and participation
  • Shifting the European Commission services’ and the European External Action Services institutional culture to more effectively deliver on EU commitments

Highlighting some of the challenges confronting women in Africa and Ghana, Mrs Opare pointed to the low income earning status; poor education; marginalization in decision making; poor health conditions and teenage pregnancy; and gender-based violence as the key gender issues that must be tackled effectively in the quest to empower women in Ghana and other developing countries.

A section Ambassadors and other dignitaries

In her view, Ghana and other African countries, in their quest for women empowerment, may learn some lessons from Europe by taking a cue from the EU Gender Action Plan (GAP II, 2016 – 2020) which aims to place gender equality and empowerment of women and girls at the heart of EU external actions with a focus on:

  • Mandatory Implementation of Action Plan through: (i) Political and Policy dialogue with government and key actors; (ii) Coordination with member states; (iii) Specific projects and call for proposals; (iv) Budget Support; (v) Management and leadership to ensure adequate human and financial resources dedicated to achieving the GAP II objectives.
  • Mandatory Gender Analysis at the correct level of intervention and context specific at sector, project or national levels.
  • Promoting the equal participation of men and women in social, economic and political life, and supporting equality of opportunity, and the participation and political representation of women.
  • Encouraging the adoption of specific positive measures in favour of women such as:

(i) participation in national and local politics; (ii) support for women’s organisations; (iii) access to basic social services, especially to education and training, health care and family planning; (iv) access to productive resources, especially to land and credit and to labour market; and (v) taking specific account of women in emergency aid and rehabilitation programmes.

  • Supporting the implementation of the National Employment Policy.
  • Supporting the Ghana Skills Development Initiative -Third Phase (GSDI III).


Following the presentation, participants engaged in extensive discussion about the issues raised. They highlighted the challenges confronting women in Africa and Ghana; questioned the political will in addressing the challenges; and the preparedness as well as commitment of women to fight and wage a sustained battle for their empowerment. Participants were of the view that even though lessons for women empowerment abounds in Europe, women must form a constituency to demand their rightful place in society as the battle for their empowerment cannot be won on a silver platter in a society where male chauvinism seem deeply ingrained in the psyche of the entire citizenry.

In her closing remarks, the chairperson thanked the presenter and participants for the insightful discourse and expressed the hope that policy makers would act on the policy brief that would be circulated by the CES after the lecture. He commended the CES for hosting the event, which he described as very timely.

A cross section of participants