The Human Rights Advocacy Centre lauds the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice for seeking legal redress in the case involving two former employees of the Ghana National Fire Service who were dismissed for getting pregnant within the first three years of their employment in the Service. We also commend the Accra High Court for upholding the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and other legal obligations, including under international law by making a landmark decision in the protection of the right of Ghanaian women to work.
According to reports, the two women were dismissed for getting pregnant within three years of their employment by the Ghana National Fire Service. The dismissal was effected in accordance with the Ghana National Fire Service Regulations which prohibits female recruits from getting pregnant within the first three years of their employment into the Service.
The decision of the Court is highly commendable because it does not only protect women’s right to work but has the rippling effect of protecting women’s right to equal work opportunities as well as their sexual and reproductive health rights which must not be subjected to any form of interference, subject only to health implications.
The right to work is fundamental to the enjoyment of a dignified life for every person. Article 24 of the 1992 Constitution therefore reinforces the equality right of all persons to work. Article 27 of the Constitution further reinforces women’s right to work by making additional provisions on paid maternity leave and provision of facilities for the care of children under school-going age, to protect women in the work space.
In the wake of this landmark decision, we must ensure that these constitutional stipulations are adhered to by undertaking the necessary reforms and development as well as the implementation of complimentary laws and policies to ensure the full realization and enjoyment of women’s right to work.
We therefore call for an amendment of the Labour Act 2003 to include provisions on paternity leave and an extension of the maternity leave period from three to six months to allow for a reasonable period of rest before delivery and breastfeeding as well as proper care of new born babies after delivery. We also call for improved implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Development Policy, especially in relation to day care centres through standardized curriculum and more trained teachers to ensure quality and holistic development of under school-going age children.
The Human Rights Advocacy Centre keenly looks forward to these successive inroads as we celebrate this groundbreaking decision.
Human Rights Advocacy Centre.