Women’s participation in local governance is pivotal to the socio-economic and democratic growth of nations and a critical link in implementing Ghana’s Local Government system.


According to ABANTU for Development, a gender and policy advocacy Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Ghana’s quest for a full democratic local government and a progressive development agenda cannot not be achieved unless both males and females are empowered to actively participate.


ABANTU notes that the continuous historical low levels of women’s representation in governance, both at the local and national levels, is a national indictment and represents the failure to take the required decisive initiatives to address the multiple structural, functional and other factors that make it difficult for women to effectively contribute to national development efforts.


Addressing a news conference organized by ABANTU in Accra on July 30, 2019, Mrs Magdalene Kannae, Head, Gender and Social Development Centre, Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), noted that in spite of the several decades of political decentralization (local governance system) in Ghana, available data suggested that women still lagged behind their male counterparts.


Mrs Kannae underscored the relevance of women as a necessary investment in the local government processes in the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN-SDG) five (5) ― which identifies gender equality and the empowerment of women in political, economic and public life as goals of, and tools for, sustainable development.


She described the up-coming Local Level Elections in Ghana in December 2019 as an opportunity to mobilize women for increased participation in the District Assembly discourse and called on the state to create equal opportunities for marginalized groups, especially women, to fully participate in local governance to ensure accountability, sustainability and community ownership of development initiatives, adding that sustainable development should be more gender-sensitive while aiming at equity in the processes.


Ms Kinna Likimani, member, Women’s Manifesto Coalition (WMC), who facilitated the engagement with the media, expressed disappointment about male dominance in political leadership and the non-involvement of women in local governance, a situation which, she said, could be contained with strategies such as public education on support for women in elections; support for women’s aspirants by women’s groups; adequate funding and election-related campaign empowerment; development of gender strategies by political parties; and the continuous education and mentoring of women on local governance.


Ms Likimani, therefore, urged all stakeholders to redouble their efforts in support of women to assume their rightful roles in leadership while women in the media should stand for the elections.


Speaking at the news conference, Mrs Hamida Harrison, Mobilization Manager, ABANTU for Development and the Convener, WMC, said ABANTU considered the December 2019 Local Government Elections as another opportunity to deepen efforts to promote gender sensitivity in the electoral processes and an invaluable possibility for the realization of gender equality.


Mrs Hamida noted that democracy was about people’s popular representation and that the demand for increased participation in decision-making was, therefore, a just demand for social justice, human rights and the fulfilment of constitutional entitlements.


She said there was the need for women to effectively participate in political decision-making because the people’s lives, including that of women, were driven or affected by political decisions such as decisions on water and sanitation, health, transportation and education, among others.


She, therefore, called on the state, media and all other stakeholders to give priority to initiatives and actions aimed at supporting women’s increased representation in the District Assemblies.


Since the inception of District Assembly Elections in Ghana, women have been unable to attain the 30% UN-recommended minimum threshold in representation in the Assemblies, making gender-based exclusion in local governance structures a major deficit in equality in participation.


Currently, out of a membership of 6.061 nationwide, only 282 women serve as elected members of the District Assemblies.


Source: G.D. Zaney, Esq.

Created: 02 August 2019
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