Thursday, November 25, 2010

Women descend on Mills

Mrs. Elizabeth Akpalu (left) addressing the participants. With her are Gloria Ofori-Boadu (right) and Joycelyn Akorfa Ochlich-Dotse (middle)

Posted on:

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday November 25, 2010
In the heat of the 2008 general elections, all sorts of promises were made to the electorates by the various political parties.

One promise that echoed throughout the political landscape at the time was the promise by Professor John Evan Atta Mills then candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that when voted as President he would make sure that women get important decision-making positions in his government and this got the NDC to form the next government on January 7, 2009.

For instance, on Wednesday June 18, 2008 at the ‘Encounter’, an Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) organized programme designed to offer platform for presidential aspirants to share their vision with the electorate, Professor Mills promised that his cabinet will have a place for about 40 per cent of women saying “I am not doing them a favour. I am acknowledging the realities on the ground.”

Furthermore, on page 75 of the NDC manifesto launched on Saturday October 4, 2008, the social democrats as they preferred to be described stated: “We shall introduce major policy and legislative reforms, aiming for a minimum 40 per cent representation of women at conferences and congresses of the party and in government and public service; the promotion of increased female access to education, health, employment and other socio-economic infrastructure and services.”

Nearly two years after coming into office, women are still under represented at all levels of governance and gender advocates are harboring the feeling that the President Mills-led NDC government deceived women into thinking more women will hold key positions in the government.

Mrs. Elizabeth Akpalu, Executive Director of Advocates for Gender Equity, an NGO said at a forum in Accra yesterday that “President Mills’ government has not really committed itself to the 40 percent it promised women. The president in his state-of-the-nation address in February 2009 repeated this promise but up till now women are still under represented.”

The forum was organized by Women Assistance and Business Association (WABA) under its democracy and human rights education programme and it was aimed at sensitizing and empowering women aspirants for the upcoming District level elections slated for December 28, 2010 and also solicit the views of women to the ongoing constitutional review process.

Mrs. Akpalu who was visibly not happy about the way and manner women continue to be marginalized in the governance of the country said “it is clear that we cannot rely on politicians for this to happen. We should rather form lobby groups to push such legislations through.”

She said the time has come for the electoral laws to be changed to allow political parties to openly support candidates in the district level elections because the political parties are already behind most of the candidates asking “why are we hiding? We should make it open for them to support the candidates.”

She said that when political parties get involved it would help them to field women candidates to represent their people in the various assemblies.

Mrs. Akpalu said the lack of strong women activism in the country is affecting women’s participation in governance and cited sister countries like Sierra Leone, South Africa and Uganda as having very strong women activism adding “power is not given on a silver platter… we need to close our ranks and fight for what is right for women.”

She said the current electoral system does not encourage women to contest elections and called for it to be reviewed to make it more women friendly.

Gloria Ofori-Boadu, President of WABA said her outfit is committed to enlisting the support of women and all stakeholders to push for 50 per cent representation for women in governance.

She said the wording of certain provisions in the constitution including Article 214 (3) (b) (c) and (d) clearly discriminates against women and said that women are underrepresented in the various assemblies because the structures do not encourage them to actively participate in the process of governance.

Joycelyn Akorfa Ochlich-Dotse, Assembly woman for Mawuli Estates, Ho in the Volta Region who chaired the forum urged women to close their ranks and be assertive in demanding affirmative action.

No comments: