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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Columnist: Amon, Nii

Women and governance

Ghanaian women cannot be underrated in any form in our current democratic
dispensation at any level of governance in our beloved country called Ghana. Many
women have contributed in diverse ways to building this nation and given the chance
and the support could do better.

Many of these women have excelled in various levels of governance except the
Presidency and I am looking forward to that day, when, to start with, Ghana will
have the first woman Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, then to the position
of President.

I must say that the number of women currently participating in our democratic
governance is woefully inadequate to say the least. For any sustainable development
in any country, good governance is paramount. There are many women with the
necessary qualification who can contribute to the developmental needs of the country
if given the opportunity. When you look at the number of women in parliament it is
nothing to write home about - just inadequate. How many women are elected as
Assembly Members? How many are appointed as District Chief Executives? How many are
heading public institutions? These are questions, which need to be addressed by all
Ghanaians. We all must rally behind women for them to take their rightful places in
society as well as participating in good governance of our country. Hilary Clinton
delivering a lecture at a women conference said, "Let women work and they drive
economic growth across all sectors. Send a girl to school even just
for one year and her income dramatically increases for life, and her children are
more likely to survive and her family more likely to be healthier for years to
come. Give women equal rights and entire nations are more stable and secure. Deny
women equal rights and the instability of nations is almost certain." With the
above statement, compromising the capabilities and indispensability of Ghanaian
women would create an irreparable damage to the state.

Our antipathy ancient mentality towards women holding public office must change and
change for the better. Some years back, and even now, some people believe that a
woman's place is restricted to the four corners of her kitchen which I think is
preposterous and I vehemently disagree to that assertion. Women of today are more
sophisticated, vibrant and intelligent and have all it takes to properly and
effectively manage any state institution given the chance and the encouragement.

The National Democratic Congress in their manifesto promised Ghanaians to appoint
about 40% of women to be in the helm of affairs of public institutions so as to whip
up or spur other women to take up public offices. Government should endeavour to
fulfill that promise so as to make a statement that government is committed to
having women to be part of our democratic governance. With such level of commitment,
it will go a long way to encourage women across the length and breadth of this
country to avail themselves for public office appointment or election.

Ghanaian women should not be relegated to the background at any level of state
governance. The few who were given the opportunity have proven beyond any reasonable
doubt that they were or are ready to contribute their quota to the national
development of this nation. Justice Joyce Bamford Addo, Speaker of Parliament. Anna
Bossman, the Acting Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and
Administrative Justice, Joyce Aryee, the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Chamber of
Mines, Mrs Gloria Lamptey, former head of training at the Agricultural Development
Bank, just to mention a few. These are women who have distinguished themselves
creditably in all aspects of their work. A lot more like the above-mentioned
personalities are out there waiting for the opportunity to serve their dear country

The participation of women in local governance should be encouraged, since it will
serve as a training ground for most women to participate in parliamentary elections
and eventually being elected into Parliament. I think the way to go is to promulgate
a law, which will allow the president to appoint about 50% of women to the position
of District Chief Executive.

In order to encourage more women in our local governance structures, government
should come out with a law that will allow the District Level Elections to be
rotated. This is how is going to work. In a particular year of district elections,
no man will be allowed to contest for the position of Assembly Member, meaning it is
going to be all women affair. Then in another election year based on the rotational
process, this time, both the women and their male counterparts will be allowed to
contest for the position of Assembly Member. Implementing the above suggestions
would see a lot of women getting interested in public office or being appointed to
occupy various public offices

About 60% of our labour force are in the agricultural sector and it is also believed
that majority of them are women and children. These women and children are the
people feeding the country. If today they decide to put down their tools all of us
will go hungry. It is therefore proper or prudent that the very people who feed us
are given the chance to be part in our governance processes. As a nation, we should
not be intransigent about the needs of our women, for if we treat them very well the
benefits will be enormous

Women who were given the chance to manage state institutions have proven that they
were or are the best managers of those institutions as I mentioned in earlier. Since
our democratic dispensation from 1992 to date, all government officials who have
been hurled before the law courts to answer charges of corruption, misapplication or
misappropriation of funds were or are men and not women. This clearly shows that
women unlike men are unavaricious, moderate diaphanous, and careful in managing
state institutions. Many who sunk deep into corruption were voracious men with
political coloration all over them. Women were far away from the canker. Let’s give
chance to the women and they will never disappoint us, as records have shown that
they are the best managers of the economy.

The District Assembly Elections is slated for December 28, 2010; I want Ghanaians to
go out there to make a statement by voting massively for all those women who have
availed themselves to serve this country. With these women controlling issues, we
can be rest assured that our finances would not be used for self-aggrandizement but
would be committed into the development our communities for the benefit of all.

If we really want our state institutions to be strengthened and also safe, our
national coffers from indiscriminate invasion by acts of corruption, thievery and
financial malfeasance, then the time to act is now or never, by electing or
appointing women to strategically take over some of the state institutions like the
District Assemblies, Parliament, State Corporations and even the Presidency.

It is well.

Nii Amon