Parliament must create space for women – Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu

Majority leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has reiterated calls to create more space for women in parliament for the House to be responsive. 

He said to be in line with the Intra-Parliamentary Union (IPU) standards, an international organisation of Parliaments, Ghana needs to be “encouraging and deepening responsiveness of our parliament to have an all inclusive parliament.”

In a vetting that has taken more than three hours for some nominees, Parliament made an exception for the Majority leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu who has been nominated as minister for Parliamentary Affairs.

He completed his vetting in under 30 minutes – a record time for any of the 26 nominees.

The debate for Ghana’s legislature to enroll more women has been going on for a while now, with the ultimate question being would the men allow the women to take their seats in parliament?

Ghana’s current parliament have 240 men and 35 women which represent 12.73 percent. This is short of what the IPU, determined that by 2015 all parliaments across the world must have 30 percent representation for women.

The figure is an increase of 6, as against the election 2012 figure of 29, where 133 women contested 102 parliamentary seats.

In the December 2016 election, however, 137 out of the 1,158 parliamentary candidates who contested were women.

A Deputy Convener for the Women’s Manifesto Coalition for Ghana, Adwoa Bame has said she sees no hope as the figures are not encouraging considering an increase of six Members of Parliament (MPs) over four years after last year’s elections.

She said although Ghana has done okay, it is not enough.

It has been argued that the main setback of women aspirants is finance, unlike their male folks who are able to raise more money to fund their campaigns.

The Gender Activist said last year’s campaign became so capital intensive with the electorates used to being given money and gifts, which the women do not have the capacity for.

Madam Bame said women are finding it quite difficult getting into parliament and those who have actually won, finance has been one of their major headaches.

She argued that the Affirmative Action Bill would speed up the pace of changing this phenomenon without which she believes Ghana is not going to get anywhere regarding women representation in parliament.

The Bill seeks to identify and redress areas of social, cultural, economic and educational imbalance in Ghana, especially as they relate to discrimination against women, and to promote the full and active participation of women in public life by providing for a more equitable system of representation in electoral politics and governance.

This, the Suame MP agrees to and stated Ghana’s parliament is far below the expected numbers.

“It does appear that our women folks are not finding space in parliament…together we have to work on that,” he said calling for an active participation of the political parties to create this space.

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