Female nurses and midwives have been challenged to prove their worth by pursuing constant professional upgrading to make a mark in their profession and avoid missing opportunities.
Oheneyere Gifty Anti, a Journalist and the Chief Executive Officer of GDA Media, producers of the Standpoint, threw the challenge during the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) maiden Seminar on Women and Gender in Accra on Wednesday.
Success, she said, came when opportunity met preparations, adding; “You cannot afford to miss the opportunities but seek for new areas of specialisation in your respective fields to be able to occupy spaces at the top hierarchy.”
She advised the nurses and midwives to avoid being blinded by the inequalities or allow the challenges in their profession to weaken their morale.
She encouraged those who had achieved high academic successes and were at the pinnacle of their career in Nursing and Midwifery to hold the hands of the young ones to mentor and pull them along to the top, rather than priding themselves for being alone in such positions.
Oheneyere Anti acknowledged the crucial role that nurses and midwives played in healthcare delivery, especially at the community levels, apart from the few ones who, through their negative attitudes, had sent embarrassing signals to the public.
The Seminar, on the theme: “Gender Inequality; Bridging the Gap in the Nursing and Midwifery Professions,” brought together national and regional representatives of the Association, civil society, and policymakers to encourage females in the profession to aspire to take up leadership positions alongside their male counterparts.
Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, the President of the GRNMA, who chaired the function, acknowledged the fact that gender inequality continued to be a key issue for discussion across all sectors since it often placed women at a disadvantage and stifled their holistic development.
She said the seminar was, therefore, a springboard for broader discussions on how to bridge the inequality gaps within the Nursing and Midwifery Professions, and further throw more light on challenges that female professionals faced in combining their careers with family life.
Widespread discrimination against women had resulted from factors including the negative cultural and traditional barriers that had sadly, been woven into all sectors of the society, creating unfavourable environments for females to succeed, she said.
She cited instances where female professionals shied away from managerial responsibilities, largely due to the absence of supportive systems that would enable them to combine their formal careers with that of family life.
She said whipping up this kind of interest would require the creation of key structures such as intra-baby care facilities for lactating working mothers to ensure quality output.
Mrs Ofori-Ampofo called on the authorities to revisit the national policy on maternity and paternity leave, with its urgent amendment to ensure that women were, at least, given six months, with their husbands also having a minimum of two weeks, to support in nursing the newborn.
She said to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), equality in all aspects of life including social, economic, health and political, must be pursued to enable females to achieve their full potentials.
Irene Mensah-Jacobs, the Coordinator of the Women and Gender Committee of the GRNMA, indicated that incorporating issues of gender inequalities into the Association’s agenda was commendable to challenge the critical core of health professionals to be actively involved and effectively engaged at the decision-making levels.
Dr Afisah Zakaria, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection, said 25 years after the Beijing Platform for Action, Ghana had made significant progress in mainstreaming gender across all sectors and encouraging positive discrimination in favour of women. That had helped to address their peculiar needs, she said and cited some government interventions such as the “He for She” project currently being championed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Some projects targeted some young males, providing them with skills, education and jobs, Dr Zakarai said and pledged the collaboration of the Ministry to enhance the expected successes within the nursing and midwifery profession.