23 November 2012

Ghana: Why NDC Didn't Appoint Women

One of the key promises made by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) during the 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections was that 40% of all government appointments would be constituted by women.

Four years down the line, this pledge has not been fulfilled, but the government has not come out to explain to Ghanaians the reason behind this failure.

Speaking on the issue for the first time at the 2nd round of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) presidential debate held in Accra on Wednesday, President John Dramani Mahama said the government reneged on its promise, because "it was very hard to identify women who were prepared to work in various capacities in government," despite their 51% population dominance, according to the 2010 Population and Housing Census.

He said though his government couldn't fulfill that promise, women issues were still dear to his heart, and would do everything possible to ensure that women realise their full potential under his government, when voted into power.

"The country," he noted, "cannot develop when majority of our women are left behind." To that effect, he said he would establish a fund that would see to the empowerment of women in the Ghanaian society.

Touching on the same issue, the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said as a strong advocator of affirmative action, he had already started by empowering more women to take up various leadership roles in the elephant family.

He said when given the nod to govern the country, he would transfer the same practice into government, in order to get more women in the decision-making process.

The former Attorney-General said the benchmark to achieving his dream, as mentioned above, was to make sure that "more women are educated" in society.

On the part of the presidential candidate of the People's National Convention (PNC), Hassan Ayariga, he said he would embark on affirmative action to ensure that women were at par with their male counterparts.

That notwithstanding, he said he would ensure a fifty percent quota of women in his government, in addition to offering a fifty percent discount on travel expenses for "women embarking on the Hajj pilgrimage."

Contributing to the women and gender issue, the presidential candidate of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Dr. Abu Sakara Foster, said he would ensure that more doors were opened for women in the field of science and technology.

The four presidential candidates also shared their view on the country's marine resources when voted into power.

On the part of the NPP flagbearer, he said he would ensure that the marine sector becomes a blessing to Ghanaians, by banning large scale industrial exploitation of the country's marine resources.

In addition to the above-mentioned measure, he said he would ensure that the capacities of those in the fishing industry were built, since research data on the marine sector indicates that about two million people of the entire population derive their source of livelihoods from the sector.

Throwing more light on his vision for the marine sector, the NPP firebrand said he would make sure that there was access to pre-mix fuel and outboard motors for the fishing community, and, therefore, stressed the need to "take politics out from matters affecting the fishing community."

"If we do that, the fishing community will be able to handle their own matters effectively," he noted.

On the part of President John Mahama, he said he would resource the Navy to monitor activities on the high seas and other inland water bodies. In addition to that, he said he would resource and train personnel in the Police Service with machinery and other equipment to enable them take over policing of the country's territorial waters.

President Mahama promised to address marine pollution when given the mandate to rule the country, while stressing to increase inland fishing and aqua culture by more than 300 percent.

Dr. Sakara Foster, a renowned agronomist, on his part, noted that the marine industry "must not only be looked at in the area of fishing alone, but also as tourism and recreation."

The presidential candidate of the cockerel family stressed the need to use the estuaries of the country's various water bodies to better the lot of Ghanaians.

Commenting on the same issue, the PNC's Hassan Ayariga said he would review the existing fishing laws and "plug all loopholes" in the marine industry to enable those in the fishing community work freely.

He said he would empower players in the fishing community to manufacture their own fishing nets locally.

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