Gender representation at all levels of leadership in the country is reflective of the reality of female political representation in Ghana, despite innumerable efforts to ensure gender parity in governance.
Out of a total of 275 Parliamentarians in Ghana, for instance, only 37 females are voted into Parliament with only two out of this number propelled into parliamentary leadership; one each from the opposition National Democratic Congress(NDC) and the governing New Patriotic Party(NPP).
A political analyst and Senior Lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Dr Etse Sikanku, who made this observation, cited unfair media coverage as one of the several factors accounting for this.
He explained that undue media focus on personalities, physical look, marital status, and maternal roles to evaluate women’s suitability for governance roles had been identified as reasons that continued to discourage women from political participation, while their male counterparts were pushed on a higher pedestal in an already patriarchal society.
He said the phenomenon tended to undermine their qualifications.
Areas of attention
Dr Sikanku, who was speaking to the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of a workshop on gender responsive reportage in Ho, urged journalists to pay more attention to qualifications, educational background or career experiences of women candidates or aspirants which could contribute to societal acceptance of the competencies of females to handle political and leadership positions.
He also identified current trends of the monetisation of politics as a dangerous phenomenon which put women at a disadvantaged position.
He, therefore, directed political parties to “allocate quotas, reduce or waive filing fees,” saying, “NGOs and advocacy groups can support the women by funding their campaigns or provide them with capacity training to compete in elections”.
The workshop was organised by the AYA Institute for Women Politics and Media to help build the capacity of journalists to be gender balanced in their work as part of efforts to increase the percentage of women in governance and at all levels of leadership, ahead of the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.
Plea to journalists
The Executive Director of AYA, Dr Lawrencia Agyapong, implored journalists to take an interest in pushing women’s issues into the spotlight while taking measures to cover them in a non-stereotypical manner.
Dr Agyapong also called for accountability from political parties in the country in fulfilling their social contract of delivering on their various affirmative action policies.
The Affirmative Action Bill, for instance, requires that there be a 50 per cent stake or quota reserved for women in leadership positions, at all decision-making levels and politics in Ghana.
But Dr Agyapong said “even at the grass-roots level, they (main political parties) don’t invest enough in getting women to participate even from the polling station level.
If that space gets male dominated, it goes up to the national level as being evidenced.”
According to research data, sourced by the institute, only 21 per cent out of 180 regional executives are represented by women in the NDC, while 15 per cent out of a total of 100 regional executives of the governing NPP are women.