A Senior Lecturer at the Presbyterian University of Ghana, Reverend Benzies Isaac Adu-Okoree has stated that the adoption of a husband’s name after marriage was only for social status and not obligatory.
He explained that the practice, which had been observed for a long time, was not enshrined in the Marriage ordinance, the Bible or any custom of Ghana, and that, the legal and most recognized change of name was through the swearing of an affidavit or gazette and not through marriage.
Rev. Adu- Okoree, who was speaking at a seminar organized as part of a two day activity to commemorate the 2014 International Women’s day celebration in Cape Coast, on Friday, said it was unfortunate that a lot of women took pride in the prefix “Mrs.” instead of fighting for equal opportunities in the society.
The seminar, organized by the Sport Section and the Centre for Gender, Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD) of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), was under the theme, “Equality for women is progress for all through total inclusion”.
Rev. Adu –Okoree said gender disparities were prevalent in Ghana and that the closure of the gender gap and enhancement of women ‘s participation in development issues was essential, not only for building a just society, but also a prerequisite for achieving political, social, economic, cultural and environmental security among people on a sustainable basis.
He said, though Ghana had made some progress towards achieving development in some areas, particularly in the last few decades, gender inequalities continued to limit women’s capabilities and contained their ability to participate fully in and contribute to the economy.
The Central Regional Director of the Department of Gender, Mrs. Paulina Abayage, who was present, said the change of name by females, did not promote the woman’s family name after all their effort in bringing her up to become a responsible person in the society.
She explained that some people in striking a balance maintained their maiden name in addition to that of their husband’s and that the fact that one becomes a Mrs did not limit her potentials in life.
She said the fact that five of the Millennium Development Goals were female centered meant that the role of women in the society cannot be over emphasized and that even though the goals had not been achieved, there was still hope.
Mrs Abayage said the gradual increase in female representation in parliament, politics and other areas of the society was an indication that gender had nothing to do with capabilities and therefore advised young women to look into the future with hope and pride that “they too could become important people.”
The Queen mother of the Efutu Traditional Area, Nana Aba Eyiaba noted that, the fight for gender equality was not easy and that it required constant attention and dedication to win.
She said, though the Ghanaian constitution recognized Queen mothers in its definition of “chief”, even women who occupied male stools were not given any privileges, until recently when the National House of Chiefs made provision for them.
She advised young girls to refrain from social vices that could jeopardize their future and rather concentrate on their academic work to become responsible citizens, who would not have to be over dependent on their husbands.