Women tasked to speak against undemocratic tendencies

Women have been acknowledged as major partners in consolidating democracy and have been urged to speak against undemocratic tendencies that can mar the peace, unity and stability of the country.

They have been asked to ensure active participation in the processes of democracy since it’s about their inclusiveness to promoting democracy, good governance and peace building.

Serigne Ka, Acting Head, Democracy, Good Governance and Human Rights at the Directorate of Political Affairs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), observed that the regional bloc had suffered three coup d’états in three member states, namely Mali in 2020, Guinea in 2021, and Burkina Faso, 2022.

He was speaking at a two-day consultative forum organised by the Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCED) in collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and ECOWAS under its West Africa Young Women in Politics programme in Accra.

It was on the theme: ‘The Role of Women in Stemming the Tide of Democratic Backsliding in West Africa,’ which was sponsored by NED.

Mr Ka noted that the coup d’états brought huge setbacks in terms of democratic progress, growth and development in West Africa and questioned the change of Constitution to allow for third-time mandate and  roles of women in trying to fight such issues.

He challenged women to use their voices to speak out against democratic backsliding by advocating human rights and freedom of expression while organising protests, lobbying policymakers and engaging with civil society organisations to raise awareness on threat of democracy, probity, transparency, and accountability.

Esther Tawiah, Executive Director of GenCED, stated that over the past two decades, democratic backsliding had become a defining trend in global politics, either in the form of military seizures of power from democratically elected governments and weakening of democratic integrity through changes or attempted changes in term limits.

She explained that in others, democratic backsliding had been occasioned by processes towards democratic transition and its associated violence that had been of grave concern to women even though ECOWAS had adopted protocols and mechanisms that prohibited unconstitutional change of governments.

Sabia Kpekata, Principal Officer, Department of Gender, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, indicated the role of women in stemming tide of democratic backsliding could not be overemphasised since women brought unique ideas, knowledge and skills that contributed significantly to protecting and strengthening democracy.

She stressed on the need to work towards more inclusive, equitable and democratic society that benefitted the citizenry.

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