Women in Politics Pledge to Bridge Gender Inequality Gap in Ghana’s Political Landscape

UNCT-GH-Gender-Policy-Dialogue-2016L-R: Dr. Ekuru Aukot, Mrs. Hamida Harrison, Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin, and Madame Fatou Diop (Photo credit: Matilda D. Quaicoe, UNDP)

21 October 2016, Accra, Ghana

The Maiden “Nkitahodie” Gender Policy dialogue has been held in Accra, creating the platform for honest and critical reflection among stakeholders on gender equality and women’s participation in Ghana’s political processes. “Nkitahodie” is a Twi word which connotes interaction and engagement.  

The purpose of the dialogue was to deconstruct the role of political parties in promoting gender equal political participation and the role political parties can play in supporting women’s inclusion and participation in political processes at all levels.

The policy dialogue which was organized by UNDP in collaboration with Sheroes Foundation and the Gender Center for Empowering Development GenCED, was moderated by Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin, Executive Director, Abantu for Development.

The panel comprised some of Africa’s finest gender advocates including Madame Fatou Diop, President of the National Gender Parity Observatory in Senegal, Mrs. Hamida Harrison, Convener of the Women’s Manifesto, Ghana and Dr. Ekuru Aukot, Former Chair of selection panel, independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Kenya.

Ghana is currently ranked 150 out of 185 in the Inter-Parliamentary Union ranking on women representation in parliament across the world. Out of 275 Members of Parliament only 30 are women, representing a marginal 10.9% of the total number of Members of Parliament. The situation at the local and district level is similar to the national outlook.

This does not bode well for Ghana’s democratic standing in the committee of nations since it is clearly a contradiction when compared to Ghana’s democratic standing with the rest of Africa. In East Africa for instance, Rwanda ranks highest in the world with 63.8% women representation in their national parliament.

“Ghana is signatory to various regional, continental and international frameworks and has pledged in various fora and platforms its commitment to promoting gender equality and women empowerment.

As a country, Ghana is bound by these commitments and must work towards ensuring that women are well-represented in political circles as leaders and decision makers,” said UNDP’s Deputy Country Director for Operations Mulugeta Abebe in his welcome remarks.

The panelists discussed key challenges to attaining gender parity in politics including the absence of the affirmative action bill, lack of campaigning, a patriarchal mindset, inadequate funding, failure to support each other, lack of mentoring and failure to seek inadequate information from the electoral commission regarding unique challenges women face while vying for national elections.

Some of the more than 200 participants of the policy dialogue including development partners, astute female politicians across Africa, aspiring female parliamentarians in Ghana, political party representatives, civil society, UN agencies, the media as well as research and academia also shared perspectives on attaining gender equality on Ghana’s political landscape. They pledged to support female political aspirants to help bridge the gap between men and women politicians in Ghana.

The promotion of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment has become a major development agenda for some time now. It was the third goal set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but also one of the goals that has remained unattained.

The new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognise in Goal 5 this continuous imbalance and have set out to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls before the year 2030. Specifically, one significant target of this Goal is to “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.

(Source: UNDP Ghana website)