The Tamale office of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), has expressed concern about the abysmally low representation of women and People With Disabilities (PWDs) in local governance at the District Assembly level in the Northern Region.
Mr Paul Osei-Kufuor, Northern Regional Director of the CDD, expressed the concern in Tamale on Wednesday during a dissemination workshop on a study conducted on the “Tracking Representation of Women & Persons with Disabilities, in MMDA structures in Ghana: Evidence from the Northern Region”.
The study was conducted in the Northern Region, with support from the German Agency for International Corporation (GTZ), with the aim of tracking the representation of women and PWDs, and to see how best to improve the imbalance.
Mr Osei-Kufuor said in view of government’s policy of increasing the representation of women in governance and progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal Three (MDG-3) on promoting gender equality and empowering women, it was important to address such imbalance at the Assemblies.
He said CDD-Ghana was embarking on initiatives that aimed at enhancing the capacities and livelihoods of vulnerable groups in society, hence the need to conduct the study to track these policy initiatives at the local levels.
The study, according to the CDD-Ghana, was conducted in all 26 districts in the Northern Region, which revealed an abysmally low representation of women and PWDs in the District Assemblies, and stressed the need to change the trend.
“More specifically the study found that there is only one (4%) woman currently serving as a District Chief Executive in the region with 26 MMDAs, while there is no woman currently serving as a Presiding Member (PM) in any of the districts in the Northern Region,” he explained.
He said representation of PWDs in these structures was the same, as nobody with any form of physical disability currently serves in the capacity of a Chief Executive in the region, and that only one man with a physical disability serving as a Presiding Member in the region.
He said there was no parity in the representation of women in the composition of Assembly Members in the MMDAs in the region, saying, “The Northern Region currently has a total of 936 Assembly Members serving in all the 26 districts. Out of this number, only 106 representing 12% are females. Of this 12%, a further unsatisfactory 19 women (18%) were elected Assembly members. The rest of the 87 women (82%) are appointed members”.
“Accordingly, the proportion of male/female assembly members is 1:8, implying that for every single assembly woman, there are eight assemblymen in the region. Relatively the proportion of female elected/appointed assembly members is 1:5. The general trend is one of male dominance. In relation to female assembly members, the study found that there are many more women appointed into the MMDAs than elected as the number of women serving as elected assembly members has declined by as much as 28% from 2006 to 2014”, the study said.
The study further revealed that male dominance in local governance in the Northern Region is also significantly manifested in the composition of the executive and other mandatory sub-committees of the MMDAs.
“For instance, on average, women make up no more than 11.9% in the executive committee; 8.8% in the Finance and Administrative sub-committee and 6.8% in the Development Planning sub-committee respectively in the region. All these statistics are in stark contrast to efforts made by governments over the years to achieve gender parity and equality in all facets of Ghanaian life with the promulgation of various legal, constitutional, policy and institutional frameworks as well as the signing of various international conventions and protocols on gender equality,” it said.
The study there recommended for an effective implementation of, and compliance to all legislations that seek to guarantee women & PWDs participation in elections and representation in (local) governance.
Mr Osei-Kufuor said a policy for accessing the District Development Facility (DDF) through the Functional Organizational Assessment Tool (FOAT) should be used to commit District Assemblies to appoint more women and PWDs into MMDAs.
He said more advocacy from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) was urgently needed to promote gender and PWD equality & parity in governance, particularly at the local level for the up-coming district level-elections and the one-third appointive powers of the President.