The Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU) is calling on government to support women who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Union, majority of women in Ghana work in the informal sector which was hard hit with several businesses such as the hospitality facilities laying off workers.

They made the call at a post International Women’s Day celebration organized by PUWU at the PUWU Hospitality and Conference Centre at Kasoa in the Central Region. It was on the theme; “Women in leadership; achieving equal future in the Covid-19 world”.

Speaking to the media, Gender Coordinator for PUWU, Mrs. Joyce Maku Appiah said although the pandemic imposed great hardship on everyone, women were disproportionately affected by the outbreak due to the nature of the work they do.

She indicated that PUWU’s focus for this year’s celebration is to identify and highlight the achievements of women in the COVID-19 response and also to identify its impact on their work.

“We want the union members to reflect on how the COVID-19 has really affected the workforce. Once we have been able to reflect and identify the impact, we will be able to make provisions that will go to change policies. So this is the programme to help us do that reflection.

“From the statistics globally, everyone has been affected but what the data is saying is that women have been more affected. Women also stand a higher risk of being infected with the virus because of the kind of work they do. We all agree Ghana’s economy is highly informal and a lot of women are in that sector so it is likely they can get infected”, Mrs. Maku Appiah reiterated.

She applauded government for the interventions it introduced during the peak of the pandemic such as the free water and free electricity. She commended institutions under PUWU for shift systems they deployed at workplaces to enable work to continue.

“You can say government has done fairly well to support women in the pandemic although it may not have come with a gender sensitive approach to the issues but some of the interventions have gone to help women especially the free water and electricity because there are homes where women are single parents and they benefited from this. So monies they would have used to pay for these utilities are used to take care of the home”, she said, and urged government to work on the economy to make it easier for Ghanaian women to access jobs.

Creating equal opportunities for women at the workplace

For her part, the Head of Extension Services at Community Water and Sanitation Agency, Mrs. Theodora Adomako-Adjei said the world has become accustomed to living with the pandemic with various policy directions aimed at minimizing the spread of the virus at the workplace.

She however indicated that the measures and interventions implemented were not done with women’s needs in mind.

“Yes, there have been some general measures to stem the spread of COVID- 19. These include provision of PPEs, decongestion of offices and shift systems. It is important to note that these measures or interventions are not based on needs of women and are not specifically intended to alleviate the untold hardships on women. This could be because the already low representation of women in leadership positions at the corporate world has not afforded women the opportunity to be part of decisions on COVID-19 response and recovery efforts”, she said.

According to Mrs. Adomako-Adjei, because living with the virus has become the new normal, there should also be a new normal for women in the world which encourages the following;

promoting gender analysis of the effect of the COVID-19
creating conducive workplace environment for women
creating equal opportunities for men and women during promotions
training and resource allocation
negotiating for gender sensitive Collective Agreements
understanding women’s needs and issues, and
promoting women empowerment at all fronts.

Mrs. Adomako-Adjei further admonished those present to champion gender issues at the workplace to ensure that equal opportunities are created for women.

Also present at the programme was the National Women’s Committee Chairperson, Mrs. Margaret Hammond who encouraged the women to stay strong and focused as the world battles with the pandemic.

She also called on institutional heads to amplify female leadership in their various units.