Conti-Katanga Mixed Hall Brouhaha; A shared Opinion of Wesley Ekuban
The conversion of the two male halls in KNUST has been the current topic for debate on campus. A lot has been levelled against it and I want to share my opinion on the issue.
Management decision to achieve gender parity as stated in the Sustainable Development Goals (No. 5) and supported by government’s commitment to Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other public policies on gender equality is right and a good one of course.
The problem is how they want to implement their decision. The legal justification of such decision might be based on the measures to be taken in the Second-Generation Affirmative Action in Ghana which derives its legitimacy from the administrative directive issued by Ghana’s cabinet in 1998. Based on the recommendations for Affirmative Action in Ghana submitted by the National Council on Women and Development (NCWD), the administrative directive was “to provide a set of guidelines for systematic and sustained implementation of the various aspects of Affirmative Action towards equality of rights and opportunities for women in Ghana”.
Section six of the directive tackles females’ education. Specific measures were that the universities would be encouraged to intensify their efforts to introduce gender courses to sensitise students on the need for affirmative action, female halls and hostels were to be increased to ensure the increased intake of female students. Since this recommendation was made what have stakeholders done in relation to building female halls and hostels in KNUST? To what extent have resources been mobilized to build halls to accommodate beneficiaries of gender policies as stipulated in the National Gender Policy 2015 (page 43)?
My penultimate opinion is about the opinions of beneficiaries of this affirmative action. Continuing female students who know what the two halls stand for will never opt to spend even a night there. Yet it is the same people complaining of off campus insecurities.
For most of these ladies, sleeping in Kat or Conti hall is a nightmare greater than off campus security issues they are facing. It is quite unfortunate that management wants to take advantage of the ignorance of some females by trying to put them into male halls they (fresh female students) have no idea of. Management has not considered the plight of these ladies who might feel insecure during Friday morale and other boisterous behavior of Katangese and Continentals. And that constitute unfairness on the part of management.
Ultimately, there is the problem of discrimination. The first discrimination occurred in the admission process. In the National Gender Policy 2015 (page 50) ‘’Gender equality entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles, or prejudices.
Clearly, excluding the two male halls from the list of halls to be selected which limited the free choices of applicants is discriminatory. The second occurred when residential places of males were given to females. Also, in 2004, the CEDAW General Committee Recommendation 25, paragraph 7 acknowledged indirect discrimination happening and defined it as ‘’ Indirect discrimination against women may occur when laws, policies and programmes are based on seemingly gender-neutral criteria which in their actual effect have a detrimental impact on women’’. Article 17 (1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana also stipulates that all persons are equal before the law.
This provision expressly guarantees gender equality and freedom of women and men, girls and boys from discrimination on the basis of social, biological and economic statuses among others. The National Gender Policy 2015 (page 50) further explained gender equality as “Gender equality means that the different behaviours, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally. It does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female’’.
Now the policies and programmes taken in converting the male halls are based on seemingly gender equality criteria which in their actual effect have a detrimental impact on males. This decision is advertently modelled on female aspects of security and thus fails to consider the male aspect of it. This is because of stereotypical expectations, attitudes and behavior directed towards males which are based on the biological differences between males and females.
The fact that some students are born male does not guarantee that they can survive insecurities off campus. This clearly constitutes discrimination which is illegal according to Article 17 (1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
• Tsikata D. 2009; Affirmative Action and the Prospects for Gender Equality in Ghanaian Politics, pp. 1-46
• National Council on Women and Development (NCWD); NCWD Affirmative Action Proposals, Undated.
• Constitution of Republic of Ghana, 1992.
• Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (2015), National Gender Policy May 2015.
• CEDAW (2004), General Recommendation 25, paragraph 7.