By: Hamza Lansah Lolly
NORSAAC, a women and child right advocacy organization has called on the Minister of Health and the Ghana Health Service to reprimand the principal at the Gushegu Midwifery College, Madam Winnefred Wondong, for preventing a four months old pregnant nursing student from writing her exams.
The final year Nursing Student, Cecelia Awuni on Wednesday 10th May 2017, was sacked from the examination hall midway through her papers for being pregnant.
In a press released today, NORSAAC demands that, punitive actions be taken against the principal of Gushegu Midwifery Institution by Ghana Health Service with urgency.
According to NORSAAC, the Gushegu Midwifery college issue is not an isolated case but cuts across all the educational institutions in the country where women especially pregnant women are discriminated and with all forms of abused.
Read the full statement:
11th May, 2017
ALLOW PREGNANT WOMEN IN SCHOOLS TO ENJOY THEIR RIGHTS TO QUALITY TUITION AND
EXAMINATION AS DIRECTED BY BOTH HEALTH AND EDUCATION TRAINING INSTITUTES
NORSAAC observed with great concern the event that took place in the Gushegu Midwifery College on 10th May, 2017 where a pregnant student was sacked from an examination hall JUST BECAUSE SHE WAS PREGNANT. This event is not an isolated case as it is continually observed in both educational and health training institute even at the tertiary level.
Every Ghanaian must enjoy their fundamental human rights to education, quality health and participation in public spheres as defined by the 1992 constitution of Ghana. Article 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW) indicates that
“States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, …….. States Parties shall ensure women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation”.
The Ghana Health Sector Gender Policy localized the CEDAW in the area of health and acknowledged that there are inadequate competent and qualified women who could occupy higher positions. The few content females in the sector are found mainly in the lower and middle levels due to subtle forms of discrimination which keeps women out of high positions in the health sector. A strategic objective of the policy “to promote professional ethics and human rights among health workers in the delivery of health care” included measures to “Institute reward and sanctions systems for health staff in the application of professional ethics and human rights”.
Following this, the leadership of the Ghana health service instituted directive to prevent discrimination against expectant mothers in tuition or examination in health training institutions.
Unfortunately, the 10th May, 2017 incident that “the Principal at the Gushegu Midwifery Training School in the Northern Region prevented a pregnant student from continuing with her examination because she is pregnant” cast doubt on how heads of health institution have accepted and are implementing this directive of the Ghana Health Service. Aside the looming trauma that the said student will face, this practice will further deepen gender stereotypes and make it difficult to deconstruct gender believe of health personnel that denies females their rights to quality health care.
The strong position of the Ghana Health Service that no student should suffer discrimination in tuition or examination due to pregnancy gives us Civil Society the hope for stringent action against this current issue in Gushegu. We urge all citizens of Ghana to join hands in drawing authorities’ attention against similar cases of this nature.
We demand that;
- Punitive actions be taken against the principal of Gushegu Midwifery Institution by Ghana Health Service with urgency
2. Opportunity be given the young lady to write the exams now and not to wait another year of her productive life to retake those papers.
3.Ghana Health Service take immediate steps to make visible the directives against this practice at all levels in schools and institutions of concern.
(Gender and Governance Manager)