Dr Comfort Asare, Director, Department of Gender, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), has urged the District Assemblies to consider equal participation as a central approach in the promotion of accountability to all citizens of local communities.


Dr Asare, who was delivering the key note address at a news conference in Accra on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, stressed the need for the issue of parity in women’s participation in policy-making structures to be a core concern in the desire to strengthen democratic culture and help build the ideals of good governance.


She said more robust initiatives were required to facilitate equal opportunities to participation, inclusion of the marginalised, especially women, in power-sharing and control of local initiatives, adding that government, with its coercive powers and the resources available to it, had the responsibility to remove discrimination against women.


She cited two African countries―Rwanda, where a marked improvement in women’s participation had been made with a corresponding positive impact in national development, and Uganda, where a far-reaching reform programme of local government and administration had been successfully implemented.


Dr Asare also noted that in Senegal, South Africa and Burkina Faso, where gender parity laws had been passed and effectively implemented, women’s representation in municipal and national elections had increased substantially.


She, therefore, urged Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to direct the focus of their advocacy work to demanding increased women’s participation in the 2019 Local Government Elections and increased representation in the District Assemblies.


She stressed the need for CSOs to give higher priority to the inclusion of the marginalised, provision of the fair distribution of benefits, engaging the public for a greater understanding of gender equality and continue to interrogate the discriminatory manifestations in laws, policies, attitudes and the design of public institutions that continued to keep women out of influence.


Dr Asare urged the media to give higher priority to women’s interests in local government elections and to magnify women’s needs and concerns in the public mind by asking relevant questions and reporting on issues that perpetuated inequalities and women’s exclusion.


Welcoming participants, Mad. Grace Ampomaa Afrifa, Programmes Officer, ABANTU for Development, a gender and policy advocacy Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), noted that there was a global recognition that the developing world could not succeed in overcoming poverty and enhancing its quality of life, and achieving peace and stability without ensuring the equal integration of women as partners and as beneficiaries.


However, Madam Afrifa said, since the creation of the District Assemblies in Ghana as the highest political authorities in the districts in 1988, women had failed to attain the 30% United Nations (UN)-recommended minimum threshold of representation in the District Assemblies.


She described the gender disparity in the representation as a gender-based exclusion and a major deficit in equal participation and the empowerment of women.


She said facilitating the election of more marginalised citizens, especially women, into the District Assemblies in the 2019 local government elections was a mandatory national requirement as an extension of true democracy and sustainable development for all.


Madam Afrifa, therefore, urged government, the media and other stakeholders to give priority to initiatives and actions aimed at increasing the representations of women in the District Assemblies.


In her remarks, Madam Hamida Harrison, Programmes Manager, ABANTU for Development, reiterated the call on the media to take active interest in the up-coming District Level Elections.


Mad. Harrison said the absence or non-visibility of women on platforms where key national decisions were taken did not promote gender parity as demanded by the 1992 Republican Constitution and international Protocols, and Conventions to which Ghana was a signatory.


Madam Kinna Likimani, Chairperson for the occasion, noted that women had greater need for financing and urged all stakeholders, including men, to financially support women candidates and to vote for them.


Under the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Law 207, strengthened by Article 242 of the 1992 Republican Constitution of Ghana, a decentralised system of governance was ushered in, with the objective of making the District Assemblies effective centres of self-governance in Ghana, intensifying mass local participation in decision-making, planning and in sustainable development planning.


The system and its processes are, therefore, expected to facilitate effective popular participation of the marginalised, especially women, as central to ensure accountability, equal opportunities and access to national resources.


Statistics from the District Level Elections of 1994 to 2015, held after every four years, indicate an improved showing of women’s enthusiasm to participate as candidates to represent their communities; but the levels of elected women as representatives only reached the highest of 478 against 4,254 male elected members in 2006 and fell to 282 against 5,779 male elected District Assembly representatives in 2015.


It was, therefore, in pursuit of efforts to increase the levels of women’s representation in the District Assemblies in the 2019 Local Government Elections that ABANTU for Development, with financial support from Star Ghana, engaged the media.


The engagement was organised on the theme: Strengthening Women’s Capacities for Effectiveness in Ghana’s Local Government System.


Source: G.D. Zaney, Esq. 

Created: 30 November 2018
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