Continuous violence against women calls for understanding of masculinity-Dr Ochan 

By Bertha Badu-Agyei  

Accra, May 22, GNA-Dr Wilfred Ochan, Resident Representative, UNFPA Ghana, has said the continuous violence against women has clearly demonstrated the need for a greater understanding of masculinity. 

Masculinity, also known as manhood or manliness is defined as a set of attributes and roles associated with men and boys, it can also be described as socially constructed according to experts.  

“As it intersects with notions of what it means to be female, there is the need for greater understanding of masculinity,” he noted.  

Dr Ochan, speaking at a UN Regional Women Consultation workshop with traditional and Faith authorities in Accra, observed that as some social norms and practices which gave rise to some of the abuses against women and girls were accepted as normal, traditional, and religious authorities had a significant role to play in ending Gender-Based Violence (GBV). 

He urged traditional and religious authorities to use their influence to mobilize the population against all forms of GBV. 

He noted that despite the government’s commitment to protocols and conventions to protect the rights of women and girls, GBV remained a pervasive human rights violation affecting women and girls, globally. 

That, he said emphasized the critical role of traditional and religious authorities in the campaign to end GBV. 

Given the fact that women and girls were very critical to the existence and sustenance of our, “the charge of our leaders to protect and defend them is unparalleled.”  

Dr Ochan urged the participants there to use their influence to mobilize the population against all forms of GBV and provide protection, support, and referral for care of victims and survivors. 

While commending the organizers of the consultative workshop for engaging that critical section of the populace for better outcomes in ending GBV and discrimination against women and girls, he called for high commitments from leaders of these institutions.  

The Regional consultation on the role of traditional, cultural and faith leaders in ending GBV by Advancing Advocacy, Policy and Social Norms Change (LEAP) was organized by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) West and Central Regional Office in collaboration with the UN Women Nigeria Country office. 

The objective of the consultation was to meaningfully partner with powerful agents of social change to shift underlying structures of power within communities, end harmful practices, address religious misconceptions, and transform cultural norms surrounding violence against women and girls.  

Also known as the LEAP project, the Traditional and Cultural leaders for ending GBV by Advancing Advocacy, Policy and Social Norms Change, in Nigeria and West Africa sought to review and, in some cases, transform social norms which were harmful to women and girls. 

Ms Afua Ansre, Senior Gender Specialist, at UN Women, explained that the LEAP was a flagship program on male engagement to put in place policies and practices to address gender-based discrimination as well as combat Gender stereotypes.  

Given the fact that traditional and Faith leaders like other decision-makers or policy makers shape the status quo, engaging and working with these groups in West Africa was crucial to ending violence against women and girls and promoting women’s empowerment.  

She said the consultation was geared towards listening and learning from experiences in tackling the challenge of violence against women and girls and hoped that it would synergize efforts to accelerate positive actions addressing GBV in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 

Consultants from Nigeria on the LEAP project shared experiences and identified challenges in some of the West African countries and led discussions on the regional accountability framework and actions of commitments on the part of traditional and religious leaders.