‘Need for increase in women’s participation in local governance’

The Convenor of the Women’s Manifesto Coalition, Mrs Hamida Harrison, has called for prioritisation of increase in women’s representation in local governance in the country.

She said electing more women and integrating them into local governance, was vital in addressing inequality, women’s empowerment and decision making process.

The Convenor of the group said “In this environment of exclusion and severe underrepresentation of women, the nation is losing out on diverse leadership and the attainment of economic and social justice”.

Mrs Harrison made the call at a meeting organised by the coalition, with support from the African Development Fund, which brought together women assembly members and representatives from civil society organisations, in Accra, yesterday.

It was to create awareness on the need to increase women’s participation in next year’s upcoming local government elections, to elect district assembly members.

Mrs Harrison stated that with 34 years of decentralised system, women in Ghana continued to grapple with inequality in representation and perennially excluded in making up the numbers in district assemblies that could make their participation effective.

“As a nation, our elections should be conducted and undertaken by both the state and the electorate within the overall commitment to gender equality of women and men towards the goal of genuine inclusiveness, equal citizenship and societal benefits,” she said.

A member of the Governing Board of the Peace Council, Mrs Magdalene Kannae, in a presentation on the topic “Electing women into local level election 2023 is a sound investment”, said women formed majority of the population of Ghana and constituted important human resource base in all communities.

“Women play significant roles in the development of sectors of the economy, for example agriculture, health, education and informal sector,” she added.

Mrs Kannae mentioned some of the challenges women face as inadequate financial resources, negative cultural practices, stereotypes and lack of political will.

Mrs Kannae stated that the involvement of women in decision making processes in all structures of governance for sustainable development was critical.

“It is not only because women constitute majority of our population but they are discriminated and underrepresented in the socio-economic and political development activities thereby widening the inequality gap,” She added.

She said when women and men participate in decision making processes at the local governance levels, duty was more effectively held accountable and community demands were demand represented.

“Within the 34 years of decentralisation, the highest number of women contested and winners was 2006, when 1,772 women contested and 478 thus 11 percent were elected out of 4,732 electoral areas of 4,254 males,” MrsKannae added.

She stressed the need for the immediate passage of the Affirmative Action Bill in law.

“Leaders must be sensitised to support women’s bid for assembly’s leadership and advocate to abolish negative norms through behavioural change media and should support to influence attitudes to reduce negative stereotyping reportage of women,” Mrs Kannae said.

BY ANITA NYARKO-YIRENKYI 

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