NPP calls for increased women’s representation

Politics of Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Source: myjoyonline.com

Otiko Afisah Djaba

The National Women’s Organiser for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Otiko Afisah Djaba has called for support in increasing women’s representation in the local Assembly elections.

Ms Djaba in a statement copied to JoyNews said women leaders in Ghanaian politics are an endangered species, pointing out the “abysmally low” representation in Parliament.

Currently only 10% of Ghanaian Parliamentarians are women, she said, adding that the figures are even lower for Assembly Members and District Chief Executive (DCE) positions.

According to Ms Djaba, increasing women’s representation in the Assembly Elections would enable women as change agents, to make a difference in the governance of our people at the district level to transform lives at the grassroots.

She stated that “it is the moral obligation of this country to emancipate women to defend the Ghanaian dream” and called on change leaders and stakeholders to mount a vigorous and aggressive mission of canvassing support for the women contesting for Assembly elections.

Read the full statement below:

NATIONAL WOMEN’S ORGANISER OF NPP APPEALS FOR SUPPORT

Women leaders in politics are an endangered species in Ghana as women’s political participation and representation remains abysmally low. In Parliament currently out of 275 members only 30 (10%) are women and at the local district level in 2009 women constituted 3.8% of elected of Assembly members and out of the 138 DCEs only 8 (5.8%) were women. A 2011 UNSD report pegs women elected and nominated at 10%. This indicates that the progress of women in decision-making and leadership has been slow. As a nation that is so quick to flaunt its democratic credentials Ghana must promote women’s access to leadership and decision-making positions at all levels and sectors of governance. Thus, the incoming District Assembly Elections accords us a brilliant opportunity to increase the representation of women at the local governance level, declare our realisation of the overall importance of women’s full and equal participation as a necessary ingredient for national development. With the needed support and political will women are just as capable, if not more as men, of making valuable contributions to development.

The 1992 Constitution makes women partners and not rivals for governance, partners for national progress and development to improve the lot of our people. The Constitution prohibits and frowns on gender discrimination. Since the 4th Beijing world conference on Women in 1995, the Beijing Platform for Action, the initiative for the expansion of women’s political participation has been a worldwide trend but in Ghana we seem to be dwindling. Ghana has also ratified conventions, protocols that include the rights of African women and the African women’s Decade and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against women (CEDAW). In spite of these instruments to address the inequality between men and women yet still the challenges persist especially in decision-making processes that result in low participation of women. Some attribute this malaise to traditional prejudices, beliefs and perceptions, ‘hate speech’, monetary requirements for running political campaigns, and low literacy levels.

As the District Assembly is the highest political authority for local governance, it is critical that the representation of women sees significant increases. The local governance institution should be more gender responsive. Decentralisation is at the heart of government business. The importance of local government in our development and service delivery to reduce poverty, attend to bread and butter issues and the Millennium Development Goals.

We must not be afraid to shine the light on our weaknesses and problems as a country. To address the imbalance in 1998 30% of appointed membership of assemblies was reserved for women. The EC’s provisional figures from all aspirants state 19,000 males and 4000 women. In 2001 Assembly Elections out of 4,583 elected councillors, only 341 were women. 2006 the male candidates were 4,244 whereas the females were only 478, percentage of females elected was 27%. Women’s empowerment should not be a continuous lip service activity.

Increasing women’s representation in the Assembly Elections would enable women as change agents to make a difference in the governance of our people at the district level to transform lives at the grassroots. Today Ghana stands at the verge of political history to develop a sustainable democracy that all sexes and Ghanaians can claim ownership, feel good about being an equal stakeholder and partner of our governance processes. Enemies of the progress of women’s emancipation and progress in this country should be aware that a woman gave birth to all of us and if we can be vessels of procreation and nurture children to adulthood then we must not be marginalised in national governance events, activities and processes. When you alienate the larger population who are close to 52%, the nation is not well served and all we do is box ourselves into a corner and do ourselves a great injustice. Instead we must work together as a national agenda, responsibility and commitment to increase women’s representation in the Assembly elections and in Parliament. This is a plea and a clarion call for us to stop paying lip service to increasing women’s participation in governance and open up our support base, canvass for votes for women, provide financial support and resources needed for women contesting to win.

We are therefore making a clarion call for men and women, civil society, women’s organisations, corporate bodies, religious bodies, the government, NCCE, and the media to deliberately act in a concerted manner by campaigning vigorously in support of all the women who have been courageous enough to file their nominations for the incoming assembly elections on 3rd March 2015. We call upon the Minister for Gender, who is directly responsible for gender equality at government level

It is the moral obligation of this country to emancipate women to defend the Ghanaian dream. We must see democracy in action by supporting our women. Ferocious political saboteurs of women’s development should be stopped. We need to live up to the expectations of our democratic credentials as the beacon of democracy. I see a new Ghana where together males and females make great strides in our national development. Women must negotiate from strength. To effect a real increase in the representation of women in the district assemblies we must all make it our duty to market and canvass for votes for the few women contesting. We are calling on all leaders and stakeholders like chiefs, queen mothers, the Chief Imam, Cardinal, the Otabils, civil society organisations, NGOs, government institutions in charge of our democracy, the media to mount a vigorous and aggressive mission of canvassing support for the women contesting for assembly elections on 3rd March 2015.

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