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Opinions of Monday, 23 May 2011

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato

A Capsule of Intolerance and Gender Stereotype

By Ato Aidoo

Political intolerance and gender discrimination have increasingly become part of the Ghanaian psyche and represent an intriguing component of the country’s social and political activity.

This is not isolated, because within the purview of every endeavor, many parents perpetuate gender roles with biases If not checked, this can stifle opportunities for women, especially in politics.

Former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings’ pre-presidential campaign and the verbal attacks so far received from her own political stable, shows that a sour political combo is in the offing. The issue of gender cannot be de-emphasized in this legitimate craving for power. In about 20 months, Ghanaians go to the poll, and whoever becomes the candidate for the ruling government has a tall political mountain to climb.

The Ghanaian society tends to define feminine and masculine roles with a twist of discrimination, while recognizing that the trend is gradually going through some changes. But many questions remain. The society is strictly attached to gender marginalization in favor of men. History beckons us, though this is not to suggest that the same should be replicated in Ghana. However, we cannot ignore the fact that women participation in higher political office is becoming a norm in many parts of the world where hitherto societal values were entrenched in gender biases. Political competition is not always about winning; sometimes it challenges the status-quo, and sets the tone for diverse involvement and acceptability.

And no individual’s quest for political power should be intentionally curtailed. We should not allow the transformation of biological sexuality into specified products of human activity. If this perception does not change, men would continue to feel superior in Ghanaian politics. Pundits are free to delve into the merits and demerits of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings’ political appetite, but it is obvious gender and prejudice play a part in all the noises.

Gender stereotypes as they relate to politics are man-made, designed specifically to satisfy the dictates of cowards. In this instance, the ruling political party in Ghana has been unfair to Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings in what appears to be a proscription of “persona non grata”. It is clear the decision to challenge an incumbent has been another source of worry as a political party’s own hypocrisy drains it.Gender preconceptions are wrong; they promote categorization, and identity sampling. The problem is so deafening that the educated who should even know better struggle with the inadequacies of misplaced reasoning based on political expediency and chauvinism.

The accusations, counter-accusations, innuendoes, and insults emanating from the ruling political party in Ghana lack politeness. Indisputably, it fuels another perception, that politics in Ghana is submerged in misogyny, “lookism”, and unfriendly competition.

This is why we should remind ourselves that modern politics bear a special responsibility to ensure fairness which, indeed, is the best thing to give to an opponent.

Source: Aidoo, Ato, Evans, GA.