Kumasi, Feb. 15, GNA- Mr Emmanuel Asamoah Owusu-Ansah, Ashanti Regional Minister, has said the attitudinal stereotypes of women regarding their role in politics and responsibilities must be critically examined in the country's quest for socio-economic advancement. He explained that the enormity of the problem of gender disparity was reflected in the fact that despite women's influence in society, they constituted only 10 per cent at the national level in decision-making.
Mr Owusu-Ansah made the observations in a speech read on his behalf at a Conference on Women in Local Governance held in Kumasi on Wednesday under the theme, "Ghana@50 - Promoting Women's Participation in Local Governance: Challenges and Prospects".
The Regional Minister said the situation did not in reality reflect a firm commitment to improving women's participation in the country's political development.
He expressed regret that the development, which was far more gloomy at the local level of governance, would continue to be the bane of Ghana's socio-economic development with long-term effects on the political system if not seriously addressed.
The Regional Minister said he was not happy that out of 21 Metropolitan/Municipal and District Assemblies in the region, only one woman occupied the seat of a Chief Executive.
He said there was the urgent need for all practical efforts to encourage more women to run for public offices in local governance. Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Regional Programmes Manager for Abantu for Development, a non-governmental organisation advocating women's development, said the barriers preventing women's involvement in local governance was the lack of funds for campaigns, low educational levels and the misconception that politics was not a preserve of women. Giving current statistics to reflect women's political involvement, she said 478 women won the 2006 district level election out of 1,772 who contested as against 4,254 men out of 13,084 who stood for the elections.
Mr George Kyei-Baffour, President of the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG), in a speech read on his behalf, said it was imperative that as Ghana approached its Golden Jubilee celebration, the role of the women was placed in a contemporary context. The conference, which attracted over 400 women in local governance and other stakeholders was jointly organised by NALAG and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities with sponsorship from the District Assemblies Common Fund and the Canadian International Development Agency.