At all historical junctures, women in Ghana have contributed immensely towards Ghana political life. From the period of independence to date, women have contributed resource and actively articulated their concerns and issues within both their households and in the public arena.
In spite of all the pivotal role Ghanaian women play within family, community and society at large, we (women ) mostly do not occupy key decision making positions in the sectors of the economic, political and social life.
We are relegated to the background as far as public decision making is concerned, this is because no concrete policy measure are in place to ensure that the structural inequalities between women and men are taken into account in promoting participation in policy decision.
The ratio of female and male membership in; Parliament and District Assemblies, Public and Private sectors and in corporate organizations does not reflect on the population composed of over 51 per cent women. Women account for less than 15 percent in public offices. There are only approximately few women in Parliament, and even in our council of State, a body that advises the President in the critical challenges facing the nation.
Traditional prejudices, beliefs and perceptions, gender discrimination, illiteracy, intimidation, child birth among others have contributed to the low level of women’s participation in the policy making process.
There is also evidence of the lack of political will and commitment by political parties and the executive arm of various government to facilitate women’s effective participation in politics and decision-making.
low Representation of Women in Local Government.
Ghana’s decentralisation programme has sought to create administrative and developmental decision making structures in the districts, Municipals and Metropolitans assemblies. This is to democratise the system of government to achieve a more equitable allocation of power and wealth in the development process.
It is also to unearth and develop local talent and initiative and train people for participation in other levels of national decision making. Under Ghana’s decentralisation process, it is envisaged that decision-making will begin from the local level to the national and back to the local level. Therefore, local government is the sphere of government that is nearer to the people and they everyday concern.
Yet, women have not been able to take advantage of their potentials to shape decisions because of low representation.
_Thus in the 1998 District Assembly elections, out of an overall total of 4820 elected candidates only 196 were women while 4624 were men. There has been no significant increase in women’s participation in district assemblies in the 2002 elections, as we find out that the total of 4,583 candidates elected only 341 are women, while 4,241 are men. Though there has been a significant increase in the number of women elected to District Assembly from 3 percent in 1994 to 5 percent in 1998 and to 7 percent in 2002.
**_In just 2015 District Assembly Elections the total_ number of Assembly Members elected were 5,930, only 280 were women and the remaining 5,650 men.
It is so pathetic with this unfathomable number of female representation their contributions and participations continue to be extremely low.
Ghanaian women remain on the fringes of national affairs and are confronted by limited options and formidable social, economic and cultural barriers that place them at a great disadvantage. Power and influence in the management of political and economic processes for development has continued to be exercised in favor of men.
Given the United Nations (UN) assessment that a threshold of at least 30 per cent representation is needed for women’s participation in decision – making to be meaningful, greater effort is needed to achieve gender equality in Ghana. Real change requires genuine transformative measures that will allow both men and women to participate equally in politics and decision – making processes at all levels. As well, there is the need for a transformation of the political culture to make it more transparent, accountable and sensitive to the needs and concerns of women.
The Executive and the Legislature arms of government must as matter of Necessity assent to the Affirmative Action Bill and any other systems to promote women’s participation in political parties elections . More so, Female candidates must be supported and should not be left on their own to compete to obtain entry into the District Assemblies and Parliament.
Writer; Assemblywoman/Womens Advocate, Comfort Yaa Darbo
Credit; The Women’s Manifesto for Ghana.