The Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) in collaboration with the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) has organized a sensitisation programme for women to increase their participation in the December 2019 District Level Elections (DLEs).
The programme sought to expose participants to the socio-economic and political benefits of women participation in local government and enhance knowledge on the assembly system.
It also provided a platform for potential women candidates to interact with current assembly women.
Participants were enlightened on a number of political topics including the structure of local government, features of DLEs, managing a campaign, challenges women face in participating in active politics and the dos and don’ts of a political campaign.
On December 17, 2019, the Electoral Commission will conduct an electoral exercise for the public to elect district assembly members and unit committee members.
Dr Nicholas Awortwi, the Director of ILGS, urged the public to elect female representatives as they encounter many societal challenges and with this experience, they would better inform efforts to solve them.
In Ghana, he said, socio-cultural and political structures were some of the hindrances to women’s participation in societal developmental projects adding that “Let us encourage our sisters, mothers, and aunties to contest in the elections and when they do, let’s give them all the support”.
Mr Ishmael Ashitey, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, said the participation of women at all levels of decision making was very low and could be attributed to patriarchy or male dominance, which is a key aspect of the Ghanaian social system.
When more women are involved in politics and leadership positions, women’s rights, priorities, needs and interests are less likely to be ignored or silenced, he said.
“Currently, Parliament has a female representation of 36 which is about 12.75 per cent and I am pleased to inform you that, government is working assiduously to achieve the appointment of at least 30 per cent of available public office positions,” he said.
Mr Ashitey urged NALAG to support women aspirants by collaborating with gender-based organisations to find ways to resource them as they prepare to embark on their campaigns.
Mr Bismarck Baisie Nkum, the President of NALAG, in a speech delivered on his behalf, said the sensitization programme is important as women representation in decision-making bodies at the local level has reduced.
“In 2006 District Level Election, we had 478 women elected as assembly members. It reduced to 412 in the 2010 election and subsequently reduced drastically to 278 in the 2015 election,” he said.
“If the current situation is allowed to continue, we can be sure that achieving SDGs Goal 5, which seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls through non-discriminatory service provision to citizens will not be attained,” he added.
Mr Nkum said the historically low levels of women’s representation in governance, both at the local and national levels, is a national indictment and represents the failure of the state to take the needed steps to address the situation.