Opinions Sat, 18 Feb 2012

Political subjugation of women, a call for action

By: Gertrude Adwoa Akuffo, UG, Legon

From time immemorial, the lives of women have not been that of ease or resting but of incessant striving. The souls of women had been suppressed in acts like trokosi, infant betrothal widowhood rites, and female genital mutilation, name them. We are in a quiet revolution where there it is a noticeable trend in the number of women gaining financial independence as well as independence from such acrimonious acts.

That notwithstanding, great crimes are still being committed against women. Such events remain as wounds on our consciousness reminding us of battles yet to be fought and task still to be accomplished, according to Sir Winston Churchill. Just to talk about a few events, we are in a country where a lady journalist was brutally assaulted by operatives of the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) and nothing substantial nearing justice has been done about it. It is in this same country where a pregnant woman died in the hands of the BNI and authorities do not seem to care. We are in a country where presidential candidates make promises on campaign platforms to women with the prior intentions of not fulfilling them after elections. We are in a country where competent “Grace Bediako” has been asked to proceed on leave and nothing is being done about it.

Apart from understanding the subordination of women in terms of their exclusion from certain activities and their confinement to others, political position which is not naturally gender inscriptive is becoming so because it is being given a gender bearing. Women are becoming subjects to an overall culture of politically male dominance, and political positions are made to look like women are not necessarily qualified but it has to take the generosity of presidents to appoint them to positions. The country needs both men and women to soar high and the sort of gender relations we construct today will go a long way to affect us in future. Society often deny the intelligence and capability of all women and question their integrity, generalising the character of few they disparage who might have soiled their positions with indignity to many. The character of a few may be logically irrelevant to the truth or convictions of the many.

The fact that some women get themselves in scandalous cocain saga, the fact that some women perform abysmally no matter which ministries they are moved to, the fact that some women in responsible positions act irresponsibly by involving themselves in serious fraudulent issues that wreck the whole country does not mean all women when given the opportunity will act like that. When leaders make frantic efforts to look at the moral worth, intellectual merit and track records of great women, they will be able to appoint women who are more than qualified, women who can logically and coherently think into issues, and be able to put solutions on the table as when the country needs them, instead of overlooking such qualities and picking political stooges to dance to the tunes of party discord.

Political male dominance cannot simply be changed through propaganda and promises that are never meant to be fulfilled but it requires practical changes in daily living. Women are not docile, and they are not stupid. They should not be taken for granted. Overzealous politicians should stop making promises they do not intend to fulfil. It is only out of sheer disrespect for women that a politician will mount a campaign platform and make gargantuan promises to cajole votes from women with the intention of not fulfilling them when in power.

We need to take a critical stance because nature does not compel voting to be a privatised responsibility of women whilst depriving her of political power to grab and secure in her own right access to friendly political platform to rise. We need to set the pace of a voting trend and identify ourselves as voters who should not be taken for granted so that anybody who dreams of becoming the first citizen will underscore issues of women as important, fulfil promises made to them and accord them the needed kind of solemnity they deserve.

Women, let’s not allow ourselves to be treated as stooges. We cannot allow politicians to construct us into behaving in absurd manners. Let’s step up a crusade to shape the thinking of overzealous, non-performing, hypocritical politicians that we are not docile, we are not stupid and we can no longer be taken for granted.

We need a kind of political leadership which is undifferentiated by gender. We need a kind of government which will show a great tendency to decompose political gender related subordination. We need a kind of government that will train more women and appoint competent people as leaders to mend our tattered economy instead of picking few political stooges and appointing them to create an impression of being gender friendly. The political ladder should be made easier for all to climb. President J.E. A. Mills by his actions has proven himself to be an anti-women political crusader. Once upon a time, it was “I will give 40% of my ministerial appointments to women if I am voted into power.” Today that promise has not been fulfilled and instead it is Grace Bediako “proceed on leave”……etc. How do we reconcile these?

Wise Ghanaians are watching with keen interest, women are calling for a complete change in the factors that militate against them. In election 2012, I implore every woman to receive every false promise concerning women with disdain. Mills is a misguided person who believes in anti-women leadership and it is obvious he has not realised the errors of his ways by his actions. Once bitten twice shy WE SHALL SURELY VOTE HIM OUT.

Columnist: Akuffo, Gertrude Adwoa