Ghana as a country over the years have been exploring measures to increase women’s participation in governance, both at the local and the national level; but there have been some perennial barriers hindering this progress.

Women’s participation as elected assembly members to MMDAS has been very low since the system started from 1994 to date.

In percentage terms, it has never gone beyond 10% since the inception of the local government system.
Currently, only 282 women serves as elected members of District Assemblies out of a membership of 6060 nationwide.

Since the organization of district assembly elections in Ghana, women have failed to attain the 30% UN recommendation minimum threshold. This poor representation in the assemblies has created more gender-based exclusion.

It is in this regard, ABANTU for Development, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has been working tirelessly together with Star Ghana to help address these multiple structural, functional and other factors making it difficult for women to contribute their quota to decision making.

ABANTU for Development strongly believes that, the construction of democracy cannot be understood without the prominent input of a critical mass of women.

Member of Women’s Manifesto Coalition Kinna Likimani, made this known at a press conference held in Accra, under the theme: “Women’s inclusion as a critical link in implementing Ghana Ghana’s local government system.”

In December 2019, Ghana is scheduled to hold Local Government Elections to elect members who will serve for another four years.

ABANTU considers the 2019 Local Government Elections as another opportunity to deepen efforts to promote gender sensitivity in the electoral processes and an invaluable possibility for the realisation of gender equality.

This she said, there is the need for all and sundry especially the stakeholders to give priority to initiatives and actions aimed at supporting women in order to increase their representation in district assemblies.

Stressing that, the issue of parity in women’s participation in policy – making structures should be a core concern in strengthening democratic culture.

Mrs Magdalene Kannae, Gender Policy Advisor of Institute of Local Government, noted that globally, females constitute a majority of the world’s population.

“The 2010 Population and Housing Census showed that the population of Ghana was 24,658,823, consisting of 12,024,845 males (48.8%) and 12,633,978 females (51.2%).

The fact that females outnumber males in the population is normal and not a new phenomenon (GSS 2011).
Paradoxically,they have for several centuries, remained unequal in all spheres of life as compared to their male counter parts,” she hinted.

This she said, the motivation to address this inequality and discrimination of females in societies worldwide was boosted by the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995 which required member countries to empower women to participate at higher levels of public decision-making.

And also, ensure that adequate attention was paid to their economic, socio-cultural, infrastructural and political concerns.

Ghana also subscribed to several International declarations, including, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) and now the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), the fifth of which is to promote gender equality and empower women.

In view of marginalized groups, especially women to this, Ghana must afford equal opportunities to fully and equally participate in local governance to ensure accountability, sustainability and community ownership to the development initiatives.

She said women’s active participation in decision making was not only a fundamental human right but an effective way of promoting sustainable development.

However, she cited religious hindrances; intimidation, harassment and violence perpetrated against women as challenges hampering women’s representation and participation in leadership positions at local level.

Mrs Magdalene Kannae,therefore stressed the need for structural social cultural barriers to be addressed; saying that the political culture should be transformed to empower women to participate more effectively in political life and decision making process.

She also entreated the media to continue to raise awareness among critical actors, particularly government and political parties on the necessity to commit resources to women candidates to enhance their chances of winning their various seats.

Source: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/newsghana.com.gh

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