The National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) is urging Ghanaian voters to elect more women in the upcoming District Assembly and Unit Committee elections on Tuesday, 17 December 2019.
According to the association, despite concerted efforts in empowering women, their level of political participation and representation in both the local and national levels of governance remain very low.
A statement signed by NALAG General Secretary, Hon. Kokro Amankwah said women have been unable to attain the 30% UN-recommended minimum threshold in representation in the Assemblies, making gender-based inclusion in local governance a major deficit in equality in participation since the inception of District Assembly Elections in Ghana.
“As country touted for her democratic achievements, we need to take specific pragmatic steps to re-enforce the need for our communities in Ghana to demonstrate and promote good and inclusive governance as enshrined in our constitution so that we leave nobody out or behind in our collective efforts to achieve the sustainable development goal 5,”the statement noted.
Read copy of full statement below:
TOWARDS BRIDGING THE GENDER GAP IN THE DISTRICT ASSEMBLIES IN THE UPCOMING DISTRICT LEVEL AND UNIT COMMITTEE ELECTIONS
In Ghana, women constitute about 51.2% of the total population (Ghana Statistical Service, 2011). In spite of their large proportion, women are not well represented when it comes to the issue of governance. The National Council on Women and Development (NCWD) (1998) observed in a survey conducted in Ghana that women are marginalized and remained the minority in politics.
The data over the years on the representation of women in Ghana at the district level is very abysmal.
One of the key outcomes of the Beijing conference of 1995 was the call for equal representation of men and women in politics (Fourth World Conference on Women 1995). In addition to the contributions made by the various conferences, affirmative action policies serve as mechanisms to include women in politics.
In spite of the concerted efforts that have been made to empower women, women’s level of political participation and representation in both the local and national levels of governance remain very low. 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 inclusion in local governance a major deficit in equality in participation.
The adoption of decentralization in Ghana’s governance processes was, envisaged to promote popular participation and bring governance to the doorstep of people at the local level of which women and other disadvantaged groups are expected to actively participate in decision making at the Assemblies.
Women are the guardians of our communities and development at our various localities. They are also the main users of metropolitan, municipal and district services in our country and we need to support, encourage and campaign for them to contest and win in the December 2019 district level elections so that the greater number of them can take active part in decisions that affect them directly.
Unfortunately this year, out of the 18,510 nominations received by the Electoral Commission, male nominations received were 17,601 (representing 95.09%) whereas female nominations were only 909 (representing 4.91%). For the Unit Committee, out of a total of 38,520, the male nominations received were 34,769 (representing 90.26%) but the female nomination were only 3751 (representing 9.74%).
The ability of women to participate and be represented in decision-making, have access to and control over productive resources have also been problematic as legislation on decentralization have not fully articulated women’s needs, demands and concerns. The December 2019 District Assembly Election is an opportune time to bridge the gap.
A research conducted by Professors Anita Woolley and Thomas W. Malone of Harvard University revealed that “women listen more, have more open minds, are not autocratic, and share criticisms more constructively. Other qualities that make women more suited as good leaders include good communication skills, ability to show empathy, being visionary, looking at problems differently from others, risk awareness and caution (maturity).” I will like to add emphatically that women are also less corrupt.
Women spend more of their time in the neighborhood, usually being responsible for the household, care taking tasks, and the community management. They have a vested interest in clean and safe water, sanitation, health services, as well as other issues that bothers on development at the local level. For example, as main users of water, women are well qualified to advise on the choice of pumps, where to run waterlines and to place standpipes, so as to avoid basic design flaws disadvantaging women and children. (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements – UNCHS, 1999)
As country touted for her democratic achievements, we need to take specific pragmatic steps to re-enforce the need for our communities in Ghana to demonstrate and promote good and inclusive governance as enshrined in our constitution so that we leave nobody out or behind in our collective efforts to achieve the sustainable development goal 5.
The up-coming District Level & Unit Committee Elections in Ghana on 17th December 2019 is an opportunity to mobilize more women for increased participation and effective discourse in the District Assemblies.
The National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) has been embarking on various campaigns this year to get more women elected into the Local Assemblies through various activities which includes but not limited to capacity building of female Assembly Members and those aspiring to contest in this year’s District Level Elections, supporting some selected female aspirants towards the production of their campaign materials, creating a stronger network of women in Local Government through our Women’s Forum and creating the platform for shared learning and mentoring for new aspiring contestants.
We call on government, educational institutions, industries, professional associations, women’s networks, non-profit bodies and the media to join in raising awareness for the electorate to vote for more women towards achieving the goal of increasing their representation and participation in local governance structures in order to strengthen the decentralization process in Ghana.
We also take the opportunity to call for the immediate passage of the affirmative action bill which has been in Parliament for so many years.
HON. KOKRO AMANKWAH
GENERAL SECRETARY, NALAG