Tuesday, March 8, 2017, marks yet another International Women’s Day. The Day, which is being celebrated under the theme – “Be Bold for Change”, presents a unique opportunity for government and all well-meaning Ghanaians to reflect on challenges, including cultural and traditional factors that impede progress towards women inclusion in public life. The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) notice with regret that the 4th Republic has not seen appreciable representation of women in the governance structures, particularly the Legislature. Although, women form more than half of the population and significant steps have been taken by relevant stakeholders to empower and mobilize women for elective positions, the results have been unsatisfactory. In this current Parliament, the women representation saw a marginal increase from 10.9% to 13.5% as compared to 86.5% male representatives. This is unacceptable for a country that prides itself as a leading example of democratic good governance in Africa. It is imperative for us, as a country, to change course and ensure a satisfactory inclusion of women in public life.
Interestingly, Ghanaian women are willing and ready to support such a change and offer themselves to serve if provided the opportunity. Studies conducted by CDD-Ghana on behalf of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP-Ghana) in 2014, ‘the Governance and Peace Poll (GaP Poll)’, revealed that over 66% of women are willing to accept leadership positions in public service. Further, the Afrobarometer Round 5 Survey (2012) in Ghana indicated that 33% of Ghanaians perceived the government handling of women empowerment as bad. These findings present a great opportunity for government to be bold to change the extremely limited number of women in leadership positions.
To start with, the Center urges the new government to fulfill all campaign commitments made to Ghanaian women as captured in the party’s, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), manifesto which include: appointment of women to at least 30% of available public positions, set aside 50% of Microfinance and Small Loans Centre MASLOC funds for female applicants, and reintroduce and enforce the administrative directive on the Reservation of 30% of poverty alleviation/credit funds of Municipal/Metropolitan/District Assemblies (MMDAs) to service women’s enterprises.
In addition, CDD-Ghana urges the government to:
i. Ensure the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill as early as possible.
ii. Appoint over 30% women as Chief Executives in the District/Municipal/Metropolitan Assemblies.
iii. Reactivate and strengthen the Gender desks at all MMDAs/MDAs to give more recognition and focus to women and gender issues in the design and implementation of public policies and programs.
iv. Ensure that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) are well-resourced to engage in public education on some of the practices that are an affront to the progression of women and girls empowerment. CDD-Ghana wishes to specifically mention the incidents of child marriage which is gaining prominence, particularly in the three regions in the north. Available information suggests that in Ghana, 1 in 4 women (27%) married before the age of 18.
As Ghana celebrates this day, it is important that we evaluate the success (or otherwise) of our collective efforts to advance the course of women and girls in this country. Without a doubt, some progress has been made in this endeavour; we note that women are breaking barriers and excelling in areas initially believed off limits. Yet, more efforts are needed to create opportunities for women to be in public decision making positions and to tap the potential and competencies of women to promote inclusive society.
CDD-Ghana hopes that, while we congratulate, acknowledge and celebrate the achievement of women, the government and all stakeholders will work together assiduously to enhance the complete emancipation and political empowerment of women which is an economic imperative as it is a moral one.
For further information, please contact CDD-Ghana on: firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0302-776142/763029
Dated: Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
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