Mrs Magdalene Kannae, Member, Governing Board of the Ghana Peace Council, has underscored the importance of women as a sound and necessary investment in local governance processes.
Mrs Kannae said it was in the communities (i.e., at the local levels) that women and men should discover their voices, assert their rights and mobilize action to achieve their developmental aspirations.
The election of women into the District Assemblies, she said, was, therefore, critical in promoting the inclusion of a disadvantaged group, increasing equitable participation for gender sensitivity, facilitating the equitable allocation of public resources, ensuring public accountability and helping raise gender-specific concerns to activate rapid national socio-economic development.
She was addressing a News Conference in Accra on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, which was held on the theme: "Electing More Women in the Local Government Elections 2023 is a Sound Investment".
The News Conference was organized by ABANTU for Development, with support from the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) under a project to build the capacities of women and support them within the electioneering processes.
Speaking at the event, Ms Hamida Harrison, Sustainability Manager, ABANTU for Development and Convenor, Women's Manifesto Coalition, noted that delivering governance at the doorstep of the people was the goal of the District Assembly concept; hence, excluding a significant section of the population from elective office was tantamount to gender discrimination and unjustified, adding that women could not be represented by proxy.
The 2023 Local Government Elections, Ms Harrison said, would provide another opportunity to raise the level of gender equality and abolish negative and outmoded traditions by voting more women into the Distract and Municipal Assemblies.
She cautioned that the nation would be at the risk of failing to realize the Sustainable Development Goals, if issues on gender justice were disregarded.
In a statement, Hon. Selina Avevor, Assembly Woman, Kuntunse Electoral Area, called for the support of all stakeholders to help women get elected into the District Assemblies in order to close the ever-widening inequality gap between men and women.
In her opening remarks, Madam Grace Ampoma Afrifa, Programmes Officer, ABANTU for Development-a gender and policy advocacy Non-Governmental Organization-- noted that Ghana's local government system was required to embrace equal participation and representation of all citizens as a core approach to promoting accountability, fairness, justice and access to national resources by all.
However, Madam Afrifa said, in the environment of exclusion and underrepresentation of women in political decision-making in Ghana, the country was losing out on diverse leadership opportunities and the attainment of economic and social justice.
She noted that even though local decision-making power was less magnetic, it was, nevertheless, a critical level of governance, representing broader efforts towards democratization and the modernization of state mechanisms, adding that the issue of parity in women's participation in policy-making structures should be a core concern in the desire to strengthen democratic culture and help build ideals of good governance.
Madam Afrifa said the News Conference was, therefore, intended to intensify the advocacy, as part of the project for the promotion of women's participation within Ghana's Local Governance system.
Ghana's Local Governance was created to provide centres of self-governance, inclusive local participation, equal decision-making, planning and development. Yet, women's presence in the governance structure remains low.
Since the introduction of the decentralized system in Ghana in 1988, women's representation in the District Assemblies have fallen short of the 30 per cent UN-recommended minimum threshold, as women continued to have a checkered history in both representation and participation.
In 1998, there were 547 women contestants and 196 winners, while the highest number of women contestants and those elected were recorded in the 2006 Elections when 478 got elected as Assembly Members out of the 1,772 who contested.
Of the 909 women candidates for the 2019 Elections, only 216 won seats in the District Assemblies, compared to the 17,601 male contestants in the more than 6000 electoral areas countrywide.
The next Local Government Elections are scheduled to take place in Ghana in 2023 for the election of members to serve in the District Assemblies nationwide for a four-year term-- a process intended to consolidate constitutional democracy and afford the opportunity for all to be part of the decision-making process.
The December 2023 Local government elections, therefore, present another opportunity for Ghana to deepen efforts at promoting gender equality and sensitivity in developmental processes-- in consonance with globally-agreed conventions and instruments that mandate all states to act resolutely to accelerate increased women's political participation as a critical component of democratic governance and sustainable development.