Accra, Ghana – The low level of women’s participation and representation in Ghanaian politics remains a significant challenge, hindered by economic, financial, and cultural barriers. The impending Affirmative Action Bill, aimed at bridging gaps in women’s participation in decision-making, is seen as a hopeful step towards achieving gender equality, as advocated by the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – five.
According to Ghana News Agency, Ranking Member of Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee of Parliament and NDC Member of Parliament for Asunafo South, the historical trend of women’s election in Ghana’s politics has been discouraging. Since the inception of the fourth Republic, the representation of women in parliament has been low, starting with 16 women in the first parliament out of 200 members, gradually increasing to 40 out of 275 members in 2016. However, regional representation for women, particularly in the Upper East Region, has been poor, with several women losing to male contestants in recent elections.
The statement highlighted that, despite women constituting a slightly higher proportion of Ghana’s population, they receive little support in elections, affecting their ability to participate in decision-making. Mr. Pontius Pilate Appabey, a former Director of the National Commission on Civic Education, emphasized the importance of women enjoying their fundamental human rights and freedoms in a democratic society. He pointed out that biases and discrimination have been significant obstacles in achieving this.
Mr. Appabey also noted that women’s involvement in politics is crucial for good governance, advocating for their increased numbers in parliament to push for agendas benefiting women, children, and the general wellbeing of all. The statement called attention to the financial challenges faced by political aspirants, particularly women, due to the high cost of campaigns and the prevalence of vote-buying.
Stereotyping of women, especially those who are not natives of the communities they represent, remains another significant hurdle. Mr. Appabey argued that women, by virtue of their roles in their communities, should be encouraged to participate in democratic processes.
Mr. Yaw Peprah, in charge of the Bolgatanga Municipal Office of the Electoral Commission, urged women to be proactive and participate in elections, highlighting the low number of women currently seeking involvement in district level elections.
The statement concluded with a call for increased support for women in politics, emphasizing the need for financial support and platforms for women aspirants, especially as the 2024 general election approaches. It underscored the importance of recognizing the capabilities of women and the missed opportunities when they are not elected, advocating for a change in societal perceptions and biases against women in politics.