HAVING staged successful transition elections for 30 unbroken years, Ghana is a reference point whenever the issue of democracy is discussed in Africa. By gaining independence from Britain in 1957, she is also one of the first countries to attain self-rule in the Black continent after Ethiopia and Liberia. Ghana can also pass for one of Africa's most peaceful states.
In spite of these fine testimonials, Ghana ranks low on the matter of women empowerment. Even though women are in-charge of two out of the three arms of government - Speaker of the Parliament, Justice Mrs. Joyce Adeline Bamford-Addo and Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, the country is far off from the globally acclaimed 30 per cent affirmative action.
Currently, women account for only 19 of the 230 positions in the nation's Parliament (8.3 per cent) and only 6.5 per cent of District Chief Executives within the local governments. And when the next dispensation kicks off in January 2013, women will only occupy 24 slots in the enlarged 275 parliament, a miserly 8.73 per cent.
Among 16 presidential and vice presidential candidates in the 2012 polls, there were only 3 female vice presidential candidates (CPP - Madam Cherita Sarpong, PNC - Madam Helen Sanorita Dzatugbe Matrevi and PPP - Madam Eva Lokko).
In a 24-member council of state, there are only three women (Mrs. Victoria Addy, Hajia Hajara Musah Ali and Mrs. Cecilia Johnson accounting for a mere 12.5 per cent.
Out of 25 ministers, there are only five women. There is no woman among 28 deputy ministers. The 2010 Local Government elections managed to get only 10 per cent of women either as elected or appointed Assembly persons.
The Ghanaian records compare dismally to the efforts of Rwanda, which remains in a class of her own with 56.3 per cent of her Members of Parliament being women; South Africa has 44.5 per cent, Mozambique (39.2 per cent); Uganda (34.9 per cent); Burkina Faso (15.3 per cent) and Niger (13.3 per cent).
Internal efforts yet to yield desired dividends
Locally, there are efforts to boost women empowerment but these efforts are yet to yield the desired results. Ghana's first President, late Kwame Nkrumah, partly owed his tremendous popularity to empowering Ghanaian women. When he realised that there was no woman among the 103 Members of Parliament he appointed 10 women into the hallowed chambers.
Aside being obligated to international rights-based frameworks, Ghana has a directive from its Local Government Act of 1993 to reserve half of the 30 per cent appointed member positions at the district assemblies for women. Although some progress has been made in this regard, it is still a far cry from the minimum benchmark.
ECOWAS urge redress
Looking at the issues, the 250-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) observer mission to Ghana's 2012 presidential/parliamentary polls decried women's poor participation in governance.
In a preliminary report by its leader, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, it urged the in-coming administration and parliament "to consider the adoption of affirmative action to enhance the capacity of women particularly their participation in the elected positions in the country through special financial support to women, as well as political parties that promote the active role of women in the leadership within their parties and as candidates in future elections."
Noting that women constitute 51.2 per cent of Ghana's 24,965,816 populations, the ECOWAS team regretted that women's aspirations for elective positions in the presidential and parliamentary elections were severely limited. "There were no women among the eight candidates in the presidential election. Of the 1,332 candidates vying for the 275 parliamentary seats, only 134 were women, constituting a paltry 10.06 per cent," it lamented.
2012 Women MPs-elect
Ms Irene Naa Torshie Addo, NPP, Tema West
Madam Elizabeth K Tawiah Sackey, NPP, Okaikwei North
Mrs. Hannah Tetteh, NDC, Awatu Senya West
Ms Gifty Klenam, NPP, Lower West Akim
Ms Esther Obeng Dapaah, NPP, Abirem
Mrs. Elizabeth Agyeman, NPP, Oforikrom
Ms Gifty Eugenia Kusi, NPP, Tarkwa Nsuaem
Mrs. Juliana Azumah-Mensah, NDC, Agotime Ziope
Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, NPP, Anyaa Sowutuom
Hajia Mary Salifu Boforo, NDC, Savelugu
Dr Hanna Louisa Bisiw, NDC, Tano South
Ms Freda Prempeh, NPP, Tano North
Madam Ama Pomaa Andoh, NPP, Juaben
Dr Benice Heloo, Hohoe
Ms Patricia Appiagyei, NPP, Asokwa
Mrs. Ursula Owusu, NPP, Ablekuma West
Ms Benita Sena Okity-Duah, NDC
Ms Abena Osei Asare, NPP, Atiwa East
Ms Queenstar Pokua Sawyer, NDC, Agona East
Ms Rachel Florence Appoh, NDC, Gomoa Central
Ms Helen Adjoa Ntoso, NDC, Krachi West
Ms Adwoa Safo, NPP, Dome/Kwabenya
Ms Georgina Nkrumah Aboah, NDC, Asikuma Odoben Brakwa
Hajia Ladi Ayi, NDC, Ayamba (Pusiga)