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Opinions of Saturday, 17 December 2016

Columnist: Kwamina Tandoh

Politics is not a boys club

There is public perception that politics is a male domain; a boys club, that clouds the participation of women.

Mr Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the UN says: “There is no tool or development more effective than the empowerment of women, no other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, no other policy powerful in the chances of education for the next generation.”

Women in the olden days were a preserve for the kitchen, however in contemporary times; they have risen to higher positions in various fields and are active competitors to their opposite sex.

Mrs Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, President of Liberia, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Flag bearer of the National Democratic Party, Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection et al serve as role models to shape lives of younger female generation.

Empowering women to harness their potentials is the magic wand to foster the development of any society or a nation, and Ghana is not alien to the rule. Gender advocacy groups and organizations, have upheld the need to increase women’s participation and representation in both the local and national government structure.

The anxiety surrounding the abilities of women to win parliamentary seats in previous elections resurfaced in this year’s election. This was after 29 out of the 133 women were elected from the 10 regions to go to Parliament in the 2012 Election.

This year, 137 women contested 102 parliamentary seats in the December 7, 2016 election with 35 wining their seats. This figure represents 12.72 per cent of the total parliamentarians, which is far below the minimum 30 per cent threshold recommended by the UN.

The low number of women in parliament can have implications for legislation that adequately reflects their interest and priorities. With the 35 seats, 12 are held by the National Democratic Congress, and 23 by the New Patriotic Party.

This year, the Greater Accra Region fielded the highest number of 30, followed by Ashanti Region, which recorded 28 women contesting and 17 in the Central Region. The rest are Brong Ahafo Region; 12, Western Region; eight, Eastern Region; 15, Volta Region; nine, Northern Region; nine, Upper East Region; six and Upper West Region, three.

In the 2012 elections, Ghana ranked 149 out of 193 in the Inter-Parliamentary Union ranking on women representation in parliament across the world. This report was compiled on November 1 2016.

Ghana scored 10.90 per cent whilst other Sub-Saharan countries including Angola scored 36.80 per cent, Sudan-30.50 per cent, Ethiopia- 38.50 per cent and Uganda 33.80 per cent. (http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/
classif.htm)

Although Ghana has made progress in this year elections as compared to 2012, the trend is not the best for Ghana and all hands must be put on deck to reverse it. Whilst commending the political parties for the good job done there is more to do. Political parties must back the Public Funding of Political Parties Bill and brainstorm with civil society on how best to educate the public on the bill, which also provides for the funding of women candidates.

Past governmental regimes and current government in their bit had contributed to making women be in the frontline of their government holding various Ministerial and other higher positions, however more has to be done to support the full implementation of the global agenda of women’s empowerment and greater participation in leadership and decision-making at all levels of the society.