Military intervention in politics inflicted a lethal wound on women’s political emancipation as the process of development through political parties was arrested in the face of machoistic male dominated militarism, Prof. Mike Oquaye writes.
Prof. Mike Oquaye, who is a former MP for Dome Kwabenya and a former second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, made this known in the Institute of Economic Affair’s bimonthly Governance newsletter publication under the topic ‘Reserving special seats for women in parliament: Issues and Obstacles.
‘The Ghanaian case is very alarming,’ Prof. Oquaye noted. ‘While other Africa nations are making progress, we are retrogressing,’ he added.
Buttressing his point from a research work by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on women representations in legislations, Prof. Mike Oquaye noted that ‘by 31st March, 2011, Ghana took the 38 position out of 45 countries with low women representation in parliament’
‘Ghana was beaten by countries including Rwanda (First in the whole world), South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Uganda, Burundi, Sudan, Namibia, Lesotho, Senegal, Malawi, Mauritius, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Gabon, Zambia, Cameroon, Niger, Sierra Leone and Central Africa Republic.
Quotas and Women Representation
According to Prof. Oquaye, quotas and reserved seats, which are affirmative actions, are statutory routes for enhancing women’s political representation.
Citing countries that have pursued this path, he noted ‘the electoral law was revised in France in 2000 so that women would constitute 50% of all candidates nominated for an election.’
Similarly, he noted ‘south Africa provided by law 50% of all elected posts and civil employees to be women.’ Nevertheless, Prof. Oquaye acknowledged that the role of political parties is very crucial for a successful quota system.
In 1960, out of 104 seats, number of women Parliamentarians was 10 representing 9.6% of total women in Parliament.
In 1965, out of 104 seats, number of women Parliamentarians was 19 representing 18.2% of total women in Parliament.
In 1969, out of 140 seats, number of women Parliamentarians was 1 representing 0.7% of total women in Parliament.
In 1979, out of 140 seats, number of women Parliamentarians was 5 representing 3.5% of total women in Parliament.
In 1992, out of 200 seats, number of women Parliamentarians was 16 representing 8% of total women in Parliament.
In 1996, out of 200 seats, number of women Parliamentarians was 18 representing 9% of total women in Parliament.
In 200, out of 200 seats, number of women Parliamentarians was 19 representing 9.5% of total women in Parliament.
In 2004, out of 230 seats, number of women Parliamentarians was 25 representing 10.8% of total women in Parliament.
In 2008, out of 230 seats, number of women Parliamentarians was 20 representing 8.7% of total women in Parliament.
So how is prof. Mike Oquaye proposing we deal with certain basic problem women face in their attempts to become legislators? Here are the key points from the publication.
‘First, there is a dearth of women who want to take part in politics. Hence, the preparation that politics is the realm of men should be removed by conscious efforts in advertising, symposia, debates, plays, films etc.’
‘Second, the patriarchal culture which means that traditionally, women were excluded from high positions should be made defunct. This includes religious and other cultural connotations.’
Third, conscious training processes should be embarked upon to correct the imbalance. Women should be schooled, trained and exposed to politics in a conscious effort.
‘Fourth, family responsibilities should be shared among the sexes.
‘Fifth, maternity leave in Ghana should b extended from 3 months to 6 months. Childbirth is a responsibility women undertake on behalf of humanity. They deserve enough rest and regain their full health for higher service in society.
‘Sixth, unfair party nomination processes should be stopped, and ‘closed cycles,’ which operate against women, removed by laws and by new conventions.
Seventh, electoral systems should be reformed to resolve the imbalance. Proportional Representation should be introduced into aspects of our political systems.
‘Eighth, government must have a development plans with well laid-out programmes for the enhancement of women’s political participation.
Professor Mike Oquaye also made an important recommendation. ‘Reserved seats should be created now to be competed for by women only,’ he wrote.
He makes the point that the EC should put two Districts Assemblies together to form an electoral Area which gives 85 Electoral Areas exclusively to women.’85 women will automatically enter parliament,’ he wrote.
This he argues provides a strong foundation for Ghana to build towards gender parity and equality.
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