Contest upcoming district assembly elections – Dr Oduro Osae tells women

Dr Eric Oduro Osae(seated right) with the participants.

Dr Eric Oduro Osae(seated right) with the participants.

Local governance expert, Dr Eric Oduro Osae has encouraged women to take keen interest in the upcoming district assembly elections, particularly in the unit committee position to bring meaningful development to the citizenry.

He observed that the unit committee role, often relegated to the background, was a critical spot in the local governance structure hence more women must target that area to promote decentralisation and empower locals to actively participate in governance.

“I am not saying do not aim for the top but I believe if we follow this strategy, get more women as unit committee members, we can make inroads in realising the 30 per cent women representation in decision making sooner than later because these women will have the potential to rise through the ranks, influence more women into the system and ensure local growth,” he said.

Dr. Osae was speaking at a roundtable discussion in Accra yesterday on, ‘Strengthening women’s capacities for effectiveness in Ghana’s local governance system.’

Organised by ABANTU for Development, a women activist group with support from STAR-Ghana, the discussion was to whip up momentum in ensuring that Ghana succeeded this time around in implementing the 30 per cent United Nations recommended minimum threshold for women representation at the district assemblies.

Representatives from other civil society organisations, state institutions, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) who gathered for the forum looked at diverse barriers that impeded women’s active participation in decision making processes and mapped out possible strategies to address such challenges.

Dr. Osae who is also Technical Advisor for the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), observed the apathy on the part of successive governments in implementing the 30 per cent threshold across of levels of the governance structure prompting the need for a review of the Local Governance Act.

“Until we get a clear law to push this agenda, it may be difficult compelling the ministry or government to implement the 30 per cent to the latter so I will advise that the women groups empower more women to be represented at the assembly elections, let them appreciate the need to amend Article 55, clause 3 of the local government act to elect metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) so that come September when we go to the polls, we vote a woman as the Assembly member, a woman for unit committee and vote YES for the election of MMDCEs.

An elected woman unit committee member or DCE will be difficult to manipulate, they will influence more women into the governance system and spur development at the grassroot,” he maintained.

The sector minister, Hajia Alima Mahama in a speech read on her behalf shared some strategies the ministry was considering in increasing women participation in the upcoming elections including public education on support for women contesting elections, support for women aspirants by women groups, funding, campaign empowerment and development of gender strategies for political parties.

Hajia Mahama assured that government would “not lose momentum” but rather “adopt all strategies available to support women” and ensure gender parity.

Dr. Comfort Asare, the Director of Gender at the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection pledged her outfit’s support “to all women aspirants who will contest this year’s elections” but emphasised the need for more dialogues especially with community leaders to motivate potential women aspirants.

Mobilisation Manager for ABANTU and Convener of the Women’s Manifesto Coalition, Mrs Hamida Harrison on her part pointed out that though a significant number of women had been appointed at the national level, “it is not enough until we have them evenly represented at the decision making level”.

“Women can articulate their own concerns and we cannot continue to be represented by a group who do not understand our issues and experiences like we do. Equal participation must be key in the coming elections and only that can help to correct the ills and faults in our communities,” she maintained.

By Abigail Annoh

 

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