Pix: Ms Regional Oforiwaa Amanfo Tetteh, Senior Programmes Officer of CDD-Ghana
THE GHANA Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has frowned on the abysmal Women’s political representation in Ghana where women hold only 40 seats (14.5%) of the 275 members in the current Parliament and men continue to hold the majority of the seats.
The current situation, according to CDD findings, is far below that of the African average of 24% even when there had been an increase of 1.5% of women in Parliament between 2016 and 2021.
The CDD-Ghana whose mission is to promote democracy, good governance and inclusive development and believes this mission cannot be achieved without the majority of the population (being women) participating effectively in governance, policy processes, and economic and social life, has intensified advocacy for the passage of the Affirmative Action (Gender Equality) Bill which seeks to increase the number of women in government and assume leadership roles without any further delay.
CDD-Ghana has, in collaboration with the Affirmative Action Bill Coalition (AABill Coalition) organized a roundtable discussion by major Stakeholders including representatives from political parties, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media in Kumasi to avert excessive delays in passing the Bill.
The move follows the realization that women still do not occupy key decision-making positions in Ghana even though the 1992 Constitution provides that the State must take appropriate measures to achieve reasonable regional and gender balance in the recruitment and appointment to public offices.
CDD-Ghana and Affirmative Action Bill Coalition’s concerns emanate from the fact that Ghana is a signatory and thus rectified many progressive policies, international treaties, charters, and legal
instruments by the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and other regional bodies women continue to be marginalized in political processes and face numerous challenges in their efforts to access political positions.
As a result, various efforts have since 2011, been made for Ghana to enact an Affirmative Action (Gender Equality) Law in line with the 1992 Constitution for which the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection has been supported to draft various versions of the Bill.
Thirteen years on, none of the drafts have been tabled before Parliament for consideration and passage into law even though President, Nana Akufo-Addo, in his maiden State of the Nation Address in May 2017, promised to ensure the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into law.
Ms Regional Oforiwaa Amanfo Tetteh, Senior Programmes Officer of CDD-Ghana addressing the forum observed that despite several efforts at addressing gender disparities gender inequality and exclusion of women are still extensive and inequality is still pervasive and women and girls remain disproportionately discriminated against across social, economic, and public life.
She said the gender imbalance is a barrier to sustainable development as highlighted by the inclusion of a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal that aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Ms. Amanfo Tetteh noted the situation is even worse at the local government level where only 216 out of the over 6,000 are women.
And suggested that in order for Ghana to achieve the goal of becoming a more inclusive state with equal opportunities for all, it is very important and urgent to address its human rights gaps to enable more women in government and leadership roles to serve as role model for future generations of young people, particularly young women and thus play a significant role in Ghana’s quest to achieve the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals.
She noted that the enactment of this Bill into law will be a step in the right direction, as it will help address the historical social, cultural, economic and political gender imbalance in the country and serve as a tool for justice for women in the country.
Ms. Amanfo Tetteh hoped the passing the Bill will create a more inclusive environment for both women and other marginalized groups and connect with the young people who will no longer feel limited or restricted to participate in the development of this country.
Dr. Charity Binka, member of the AAB Steering Committee giving a background of the Affirmative Action Bill criticized low women representation in state institutions and mentioned that Ghana’s Parliament has 40 women (14.5%); six female ministers against 30 men; ten female deputy Ministers against 29 males and three women in the Cabinet against 16, adding that there are only two female Regional Ministers against 14.
At the Council of State there are four women against 24 men; five women Supreme Court Judges against 11 men; High Court Judges 44 against 74; MMDCEs 38 against 260 and nine female Chief Directors against 30 men.
She also disclosed that Ghana is ranked 147 out of 193 countries from the Global Parliamentary situation and called for a collective responsibility to step up advocacy to pass the bill into law and correct the current imbalance by the close of the year.
The AAB Steering Committee member said the time for all to push for the passage of the bill is now to guide Ghana to correct the imbalance and move along other African countries.
Mrs. Sheila Minkah-Premo, Convener of the AAB Coalition disclosed that the Bill was placed before Parliament in October 2016 but could not be passed because it was an election year.
She urged the new Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection to prioritize the passage of the Bill since long absence of the former Minister of Gender, Adwoa Safo might have contributed to the delay in the passage of the Bill which has been at the Cabinet since May 2021.
By Kow Richardson