The Foundation for Security Development in Africa (FOSDA) has urged Ghanaians to use the upcoming local government elections to elect more women into the country’s governance structure.
It said the elections, slated for October this year, presented an opportunity for Ghana to address the underrepresentation of women in local governance.
It, therefore, urged the government, through the appropriate ministries and agencies, development partners and civil society organisations to deliberately invest and take actions to encourage and promote women’s participation in decision-making processes.
The Executive Director of FOSDA, Theodora Williams-Anti, told the Daily Graphic that Ghana had continuously recorded high gender inequality in decision-making at local and national levels despite all the evidence showing the benefits of active women’s participation in decision-making worldwide.
Ghana, she said, hardly achieved the globally recommended 30 per cent gender representation in public decision-making.
“It is globally acknowledged that women’s empowerment and incorporation of their interests into all aspects of society are crucial to attaining true democracy and achieving sustainable national development goals,” she said.
According to her, Ghana practised a decentralised governance system, including a local government system that takes power and control closer to the people.
The local government, she explained, was composed of municipalities and metropolitan and district assembly-level government that played a crucial role in the functioning of a country’s political and administrative system.
Local governance, she said, was important because it ensured proximity to the people, tailored policies, fiscal responsibility, economic development and decentralisation of power.
Citizens’ involvement, she said, especially women’s participation in local governance, ensured that diverse perspectives and experiences were considered in decision-making processes in the country, leading to more comprehensive, inclusive and sustainable policies and development that address the needs of all Ghanaians.
The underrepresentation of women at the local level, she said, mirrored the situation at the national level.
“For instance, out of the 275 MPs, only 40 are women constituting 15 per cent,” she said.
To confirm the underrepresentation of women in local governance, FOSDA undertook a gender analysis of the membership of 61 local assemblies.
The analysis showed that out of 1,214 elected members, only 63 representing 5.19 per cent were female-elected members, which was far less than the sub-Saharan average of 25 per cent.
The number of elected women, it confirmed, was shored up by the 150 women appointed by the President in accordance with section 15 of the Local Government Act, 2016 (Act 936).
The 150 appointed assembly women constitute 26.4 per cent of the 569 assembly members appointed in the 61 assemblies that were considered for the analysis.
That brings the total number of women (elected and appointed) in the 61 assemblies to 213, representing 11.9 per cent of the total 1,783 assembly members.
The analysis also revealed that some districts such as Korley Klottey, Ashaiman, Wa East, Wa West, Ahanta West, East Mamprusi, Kwahu East and Suhum district assemblies had no elected women to their local assemblies.
The Commonwealth Local Governance forum disclosed that in Ghana’s 2019 district assembly elections, only 909 female candidates contested, while 17,601 male candidates contested across the sixteen regions.
Also, at the Unit Committee level, 3,751 women contested, while 34,769 men contested.
On the causative factors of the underrepresentation of women in local assemblies in Ghana, FOSDA listed persisting traditional beliefs and perceptions about the role and place of women in society, illegal politicisation of the local government elections, high cost of elections in Ghana and lack of an affirmative action law.
Other factors are the lack of support from political parties, unfavourable electoral systems and fear of violence and harassment during campaigns, time constraints and family responsibilities and lack of mentorship and networking for women in politics.
The analysis revealed that the situation puts women’s participation and representation in terrible shape, considering their contribution to national development.