ABANTU for Development, a women empowerment non-governmental organization (NGO), has called for massive public support for female candidates in the upcoming 2023 local government elections.
According to the NGO, emphasis on equal participation must be made central to the institutional arrangement of the country’s governance system, to promote accountability among all citizens.
Making the call at a press briefing, in Accra, yesterday, a representative of ABANTU for Development, Ms Jacqueline Kyei Baffour, expressed worry that Ghanaian women continued to be marginalised, making the attainment of the 30 per cent United Nations (UN) recommended minimum threshold in representation very difficult.
She said “The District Assemblies are failing election after election, to achieve a local environment for equal political engagement between women and men for genuine consensus-building to strengthen democracy in the districts.”
However, Ms Baffour, indicated that women had a lot to contribute to the democratic and efficient functioning of the decentralised system.
She said that increasing the number of women in district assemblies would democratise decision-making, add value to policy making with their experiences, offer new perspectives on socio-economic issues as well as brining on board new items on the agenda, which could be impactful to national development.
The parity in women’s participation in local government, Ms Baffour said “should be an issue of national concern in the desire to strengthen democratic culture, social justice and deepen social legitimacy.”
She noted that while local level elections in the country were less captivating, attracting less than 40 per cent voter turnout in all the elections, it was a critical level of governance, representing broader efforts towards democratisation and modernisation of state mechanisms.
Ms Baffour, therefore, urged the electorate to undertake their civic responsibility of voting within the overall commitment.
This she said would engender equality of women and men while supporting legislative electoral reforms towards the goal of genuine inclusiveness, equal citizenship and social benefits.
Mr Barry Quist, Assistant Programmes Officer, at the Department of Gender, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, commended the NGO for sustaining advocacy for the passage of Ghana’s Affirmative Action Bill (AAB) into law, and supporting women at the local level to participate in the district level elections.
“The Ministry is ready to partner with stakeholders like ABANTU for Development to champion the course of women, especially in decision making to strengthen the local government system in the country,” he assured.
In his remarks, Deputy Director of West Akim Municipal Assembly, Mr Shakil Mahamood said several researchers had outlined reasons that accounted for the low women participation at all levels of decision-making, including low level of education, inadequate finance, male dominance and some Ghanaian socio-cultural norms.
Convener of the Women’s Manifesto Coalition, Mrs Hamada Harrison, stressed the need for the passage of the bill as a matter of urgency.
She also urged the media to increase reportage on the need for the passage of the bill into law.
Mrs Harrison said that if more women find themselves in decision making, it would lead to significant improvement in all aspects of national development.
“Unless we have gender parity when it comes to the decision making, poverty can never be alleviated satisfactorily,” she said.