In September of 2014, an employee of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Grace Fosu was fired from her job over the phone while she was at a hospital to give birth.
Grace Fosu, who told her story to the CNN, was going to give birth at a maternity ward in Accra when she received a phone call from her employer. The message from the call was simple: she was being let go.
Fosu, now 33, recalls asking: “I am in labor and you are calling me to tell me this, do you want me to die?”
She was not in the place or health to go back and forth with her metropolitan fire officer who had called. After hanging up, Fosu delivered a healthy baby girl, Salamat.
But it was grief that consumed Fosu, instead of the joy of her new baby girl. She had not been expecting her dismissal.
Fosu had married her husband, Seidu Abubakari, one year after meeting at an athletics tournament for Ghana’s security officials. Salamat was their first child, and they were looking forward to starting a family together.
Weeks after their daughter was born, the couple were summoned by the fire service and a formal dismissal letter, in which Fosu’s pregnancy was described as an “offence,” was handed to her husband.
She was not to have had a child the first three years into her employment at the GNFS.
But Fosu believes she was targeted over an incident in which she says she was sexually harassed by a senior male officer. This was a male officer who had also advised her to abort the baby.
She never filed an official report against the officer, a man still in the service. Fosu's husband had confronted the said officer and immediately, the harassment ceased.
But after her sacking and with the courage of a woman with nothing to lose, Fosu reported her dismissal to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
Luckily, she was joined by another woman, Thelma Hammond, who had been dismissed from the fire service on similar grounds.
CHRAJ filed a case at the Accra High Court on behalf of the two in 2017 and in 2018, they won. They were awarded GHC 50,000 each, monies the GNFS is yet to pay.
The fire service has since reduced the three-year rule to one.
But the GNFS is still refusing to give back employments to Fosu and Hammond per the court's ruling. This problem, experts say, is part of a stubborn patriarchal society that rarely gives a second chance to women.
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