Since Ghana’s independence almost six decades ago, women’s representation in the country’s local and national politics has been a topical issue in the national discourse, with the quest of closing the political gender gap remaining a dream to be realised.
While some blame the male-dominated political environment for the low representation of women in politics, others accuse politicians of lack of commitment to changing the status quo.
In all societies, many barriers and discriminatory practices against women continue to hinder their ability to actively participate in all processes of decision-making that affect their lives, and for that reason power and influence on how political and economic processes are to be managed for development to be exercised by, and in favour of, men.
Equal participation of men and women in decision making is the only way through which women can enjoy their rights as citizens of a country.
Ghanaian women have always been interested in politics and have over the years demonstrated this.
Currently, women account for only 29 of the 275 members in the nation’s Parliament, representing 21.8 per cent, with only three women, representing 6.5 per cent, as members of the Council of State. There are fewer female district chief executives and fewer female presiding members at the various district assemblies.
Studies have shown that countries that have achieved high representation of women in governance have done that through affirmative action using the quota system.
It is, therefore, imperative for women’s groups and women activists to intensify advocacy for the use of the quota system as an affirmative action measure to ensure an increase in the number of women in the political process.
The 2016 Policy Statement of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) gives assurance of the party’s commitment to promote affirmative action for women and persons with disability when it is voted into power in the December 7 parliamentary and presidential elections.
“If you vote for the PPP, we promise to rally all Ghanaians to work harder and more diligently to implement affirmative action policies and programmes to give our women and persons with disabilities opportunities to develop their potentials in life,” it states.
Female vice-presidential candidate
For the second time in two successive elections, the PPP has chosen a female running mate to the presidential candidate, and at a colourful ceremony to unveil the party’s running mate in the 2016 general election, the PPP’s presidential candidate, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, reiterated his party’s commitment to empowering young men and women in the country.
On Thursday, August 4, 2016, he announced Madam Brigitte Dzogbenuku as his running mate.
In 2012, the party named Madam Eva Lokko, a former Director General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), as its first running mate to run alongside Dr Nduom, something no political party in the country’s fourth republican democracy has ever done.
Madam Lokko is now the party’s parliamentary candidate for the Klottey Korle Constituency.
Once the holder of the coveted title of "Miss Ghana," after winning the Miss Ghana beauty contest in 1991, Madam Dzogbenuku, an old student of Wesley Girls' Senior High, has been advocating women’s empowerment for many years. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Empowering Women Ghana, a non-governmental organisation which runs programmes that inspire and empower young women and girls into making positive differences in their communities.
Elaborating on the PPP’s Affirmative Action for women and persons with disability in an interview during a visit to the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), when the company hosted leaders of some political parties as guest editors of the national daily newspaper as part of activities marking the Founder’s Day celebration on Wednesday, September 21, Ms Dzogbenuku encouraged all women to work together and support each other, irrespective of their party affiliations.
She said the PPP appreciated the implementation of the quota system, but explained that that could be done after adequate training and development for women to acquire the necessary qualifications to enable them to occupy the relevant positions, and that would be tackled by the PPP.
She added that the PPP believed in free and compulsory education for every child, whether a boy or a girl or a disabled child, since all needed to be educated to acquire the necessary qualifications to fit into various positions so that no one would be blamed should there be shortfall.
Ms Dzogbenuku also spoke about the need to intensify public education on discriminatory practices against women, stressing that the PPP contended that politics was not the preserve of men, but for women as well; hence, its commitment to encourage more women to go into politics.
“Our socialisation within our institutions need to change and a lot of work need to be done to ensure that we change our thinking about women and do not make them afraid to step up but appreciate their potential and help them develop and use them,” she said.
According to Ms Dzogbenuku, the party recognises the potential of women and, therefore, has a number of women contesting in the parliamentary election.
She stressed that she was given the nod as the party’s running mate as a result of her mentoring roles for women and women’s empowerment.