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THE NETWORK FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN GHANA (NETRIGHT) CONDEMNS ACTION AGAINST A PREGNANT NURSING STUDENT

The Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) has issued a statement to condemn actions against a pregnant nursing student preventing her from writing her final examination due to her pregnancy and other violations against women. See statement below: STATEMENT FROM THE NETWORK FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN GHANA (NETRIGHT) ON DENYING A PREGNANT STUDENT NURSE HER RIGHT TO SIT FOR HER FINAL EXAMINATIONS On Wednesday May 10th 2017, Ghanaian media carried news that a student nurse, Cecilia Awuni had been sacked from the examination hall while writing her final examinations. The grounds for her expulsion were that she was pregnant. The shock and repulsion about the injustice imposed generated in the public was immediate: that the head of institution should think it a duty to ‘advise’ a woman not to write examinations in a state of pregnancy. It gets even more unnerving that the interdiction should be imposed by the head of a health based institution which disseminates scientific information on the nature of pregnancy. Above all, the head of such an institution should not be unaware that pregnancy does not impair women’s intellectual faculties. We of the Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), a network of individuals and organisations dedicated to women’s rights and gender equality in Ghana, add our voice to the generalised condemnation of the injustice. We welcome the reparations that have been offered the affected student nurse. We note though that they constitute damage control that can only be partial. All the same, we draw relief from the chance that the Nursing and Midwifery Council has provided the student, according to reports, to undertake the examinations. We salute the student and others supporting her for bringing the issue to public attention, giving visibility to an on-going problem. Notwithstanding attempts to repair the damage and the ongoing legal suit, we of NETRIGHT want to use this occasion as a platform for discussing women’s rights generally and maternity protection in particular. Our concern stems from a number of factors. The most important is the worrying recurrence of this abuse and its implications for women’s rights to higher education and decent employment. We recall similar incidents making headline news on this matter on Friday 27th May 2016 at the Mampong Nurses and Midwifery Training School in the Ashanti Region where three pregnant students were denied the right to register and write their licensing examinations. Again in July 2013 in Asante Mampong, at the St. Monica’s College of Education 5 female students were refused approval to write their third year examinations on the grounds that they were pregnant. Outside the educational arena, we recall the 2016 uproar when a personnel provider associated with Tigo, was reported to have issued a memo to female staff of leave without pay during maternity without security of their jobs. Of course these are the ones that have made headlines news, many such unrecorded incidents must be happening. The interdiction inflicted on the student nurse, Cecilia Awuni and others, is not just illegal, it breaches several rights. These derive from Ghana’s constitution and from UN and ILO conventions that Ghana is signatory to. Notable among these is the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which Ghana is a party to. In Ghana as in all other societies, childbearing is a revered responsibility supported by deep-seated social and cultural norms and values. Rightly so, since it is the only way that societies can ensure continuity. Besides, societal development depends on human reproduction. Much as all societies cherish childbirth, it is used everywhere as the basis to deny women access to several socially valued resources, often presented as in their best interest or as general good of humankind. Pregnant women and nursing mothers suffer even more discrimination, forcing them to make a choice between their personal interest and that of their unborn children or infants. So women cannot get too much education, should not take up careers that take them too far or make them stay too long from home. British ruling class thinking during a time referred to as the Victorian era, which saw the imposition of colonial rule, was dominated by perceptions that women are better off in the home and that maternity and childbearing should be delinked from the formal workplace. This informed recruitment into public and civil services, in professions such as nursing, teaching and the security service. We know of a number of women in Ghana who had to make the painful choice between motherhood and career and salute those who stood for their career. That it is unjust for women and detrimental to social progress has brought in its wake numerous provisions such as the CEDAW, the ILO Conventions 183 on Maternity Protection as well as 156 on Workers with Family Responsibil

CONTACT

C/o Third World Network Africa (TWN-Africa)
P. O. BOX AN 19452, ACCRA-NORTH
Email : info@netrightghana.org / netright@ymail.com
Tel : +233 302 511189 / 500419
Cell : +233 020 0458945
Fax : +233 302 511188

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