Thursday, December 18, 2008

Women's Coalition Threatens Action

Women's Coalition Threatens Action

By Lawrence Akpalu
Thursday, 18 December 2008

The Women’s Manifesto Coalition of Ghana has expressed disappointment at the reduced number of women going to the next parliament following the December 7 general elections. The elections saw the number of women parliamentarians reduce from 25 to 18, leaving women activists and gender advocates totally demoralized.

The Executive Director of Advocates for Gender Equity Age, Mrs Elizabeth Akpalu, stated at a press briefing yesterday in Accra that the Women Manifesto Coalition was demanding from the next government, mandatory appointment of women as regional ministers and district chief executives, and on boards of corporations and institutions.

Mrs Akpalu said the two main political parties – the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New patriotic Party (NPP) had not convinced women who constituted the majority of voters about their commitment to women’s representation and participation in governance and the strategies they intended to introduce to achieve gender equity.

“We firmly believe that without the active participation of women and the incorporation of women’s –perspectives all levels of decision making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved,” she added.

She said “the coalition’s demands were clearly stated in the Beijing Platform for Action which called for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and for equal participation of both men and women in decision making positions to reflect societal interest.

“Since the constitution requires that two-thirds of ministers must be appointed from Parliament, the 18 elected women parliamentarians even if appointed would not make any impact,” she said, adding, “women would still be worse off in the new administration”.

She said that to press home their demands, bus loads of women would be conveyed to the offices of the two main political parties to demand pledges for a peaceful election run-off and the implementation of strategic outline of existing national policies.

“We shall firmly demand a timely response from the two main political parties before December 28 to enable women to make an informed decision on which presidential candidate to vote for,” she said.

Mrs Akpalu assured the two parties of the coalition’s continued engagement with them in the next government to further address the demands, as the time for affirmative action towards adopting a quota system to ensure full women participation in politics is now.”

Source: News Times Online.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Akofa Anyidoho participated in the Digital Story-telling Track at the FTX programme in Cape Town from 10-12 November, 2008. Below is a 1:44 minute movie clip, a poetic creation on her thoughts of being a woman, Obaasima, which means 'ideal woman' in Akan. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Photo Competition Winning Images

Announcing the Winners of the "Changing Images of Women in Ghana" Photo Competition!

Long time no see by Kwabena Danso
Winning Image

"Intriguing and Ambigious. Woman's presence is intense, can hardly see the man." ~A Judge's Comment

The woman "obviously got it together!"~Another Judge's Comment.

Malaika & Saviour, nursing students off to school by Senyo Ganyo
2nd Winning Image

"The essence of femininity in a stolen private moment," comment by a reviewer.

Beautiful dawn by Kwabena Danso
3rd Winning Image

Abstract but aesthetically good," A judge's comment.

Gloomy Calm by Kwabena Danso
3rd Wining Image, it was a tie. :)

The judging panel:
Tessa Lewin, Communications & Learning Officer-RPC
Anna Kari, Documentography
Guilhem Alandry, Documentography
Akosua Adomako Ampofo, RPC-West Africa Researcher
Nana Akua Anyidoho, RPC-West Africa Researcher

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Congratulations-Dr. Asiedu!

Awo Mana Asiedu (Dr. ), a lecturer at the Drama Department of the School of Performing Arts and an RPC research partner with the Sexuality them has been promoted to the position of Senior Lecturer.

The RPC West Africa, the entire RPC and partners bid you Congratulations!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Steep Price of Getting Elected

POLITICS-GHANA: The Steep Price of Getting Elected
Global Geopolitics Net Sites / IPS
Thursday, October 16, 2008
All rights reserved, IPS – Inter Press Service, 2008.
Francis Kokutse

ACCRA, Oct 16 (IPS) - Mawusi Awity and her husband were willing to jeopardize his military career for her dream of running for parliament in Ghana but there was another price to pay that she could not afford.

”The excessive use of money to win the minds and hearts of the voters is making it difficult for women to get into the forefront of politics,” Awity told IPS.
A development worker and district assemblywoman for the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Awity, 46, is one of a handful of women trying to move into Ghana’s political arena. Her story shows the need to re-draw political rules in this democratic West African country (pop.23 million).

In August, Awity lost the primary election to choose the parliamentary candidate for the South Tongu constituency, in the southeast.

Never mind the possible consequences for her husband, an officer in the Armed Forces, of her choice. "My husband has resigned himself to the fate that if my party looses the elections, that is the end of his career," she added. "But he is a wonderful man and supports me."
The insurmountable problem was vote-buying among party delegates, a common practice in Ghana, according to political analysts. "The use of money in politics has seriously affected all the attempts we have made to involve more women in politics," said Hamida Harrison, programme officer of the women advocacy group, ABANTU for Development.

Awity’s decision not to buy votes possibly cost her the election. "The people know I am the best candidate but they also decided to take money to vote for whoever provides the money," she said.

The numbers speak for themselves. For this year’s general elections scheduled for December, only 70 women are running for Parliament’s 230 seats. Perhaps the lesson of the last elections in 2004 was not lost on women. Between the two main parties and a few small ones, a total of 101 women ran. Twenty-four were elected — just under 11 per cent of Members of Parliament (MPs).

The NPP fielded 227 candidates, of whom 27 were women. Twenty women and 107 men were elected.The National Democratic Congress (NDC) fielded 212 male candidates, of whom 90 were elected, and 16 women, of whom four were elected.
The Convention People’s Party (CPP) candidates numbered 150 men and 18 women. Only two men were elected.

"To think that after we launched the Women’s Manifesto, this is all we achieved, shows that there are fundamental problems that need to be addressed," said Harrison.

The Manifesto, launched in 2004, is a non-partisan call to promote gender equality in politics.
"We have been able to use the Manifesto to change the perception of our women about politics not being a job for them," Harrison told IPS.

Some progress can be seen. The Chief Justice, the Deputy Inspector General of Police and the Vice-Chancellor of a large public university are women.

"What is holding women back is the way politics is run in the country," said Harrison.
Money talks, money votes.

Thelma Lamptey, who won the CPP primary to represent Pokuase constituency near Accra, the capital, couldn’t agree more. Lamptey, a teacher, has twice lost the nomination to men.
"The main problem has been how to raise money to run my campaigns," she said." Whereas men find it easy to raise funds, women cannot easily go to the men who could help them. In addition, the men who may want to help do not feel comfortable to approach the women," she added.

Harrison attributes the attitude of the men to the social structure of the country: "Let us be honest, Ghana is a patriarchal country and a highly traditional society and this does not give space to women. We have reports of spousal pressure on some women to back out from their political careers and some marriages have broken down."

Perhaps not surprisingly, a couple of top women touted as possible vice presidents by the various parties were not interested. Anna Bossman, acting head of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, turned down an offer from the CPP, arguing she was happy in her job. Rose Mensah-Kutin, executive director of Abantu, recused herself early on when her name was being bandied by the PNC.

What to do?

Awity supports affirmative action with a number of Parliamentary seats reserved for women.
Lamptey suggests exempting women candidates from paying filing fees to the party before the primaries and another fee later to the Electoral Commission. Awity, who in spite of her bitter defeat works with the NPP presidential advisory team, said that "the party has become aware of the money factor as one thing that is impeding the participation of women and that has to be fought seriously."

She agreed that fees should be scrapped for women or the government should set up a fund to support women candidates. However, she warned, strict monitoring is needed to prevent misuse.Then Awity can worry about winning votes, instead of buying them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We Know Politics

WiLDAF bemoans the marginalization of women

The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Ghana and Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) have condemned the spate of marginalization of Ghanaian women in leadership positions and called for effective affirmative actions to address the problem.

The two bodies admitted that there had been some levels of improvements in the number of women in leadership positions but noted that the gap was still huge considering the more than 50 per cent of women making up the country’s population.

This was made known at a day’s Regional Consultative Forum in Bolgatanga organised by FIDA Ghana, WiLDAF Ghana and the Hunger Project, Gender Centre and Coalition of Women in Governance.

It was under the theme; “We know Politics; Hearing the Voices of Women in the 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary election”.

Mr David Atinga, Coordinator of FIDA-Ghana in charge of the Upper East Region said the forum was to collate views and concerns of women that needed to be addressed by politicians in the 2008 elections and afterwards so that could be held accountable after their stewardship.

He noted that unless the gender gap was bridged to allow women to articulate their needs to be addressed, Ghana’s aim of achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 could be a mirage.

Mr Atinga said that out of the 10 Regional Ministers there was no woman with the Deputy Regional Ministers having seven men and three women.

He said the 35 chief directors had 29 men and six women with four women making to the total of 48 Ambassadors.

The Members of Council of State was made up of 22 men and three women and out of 230 Parliamentarians, 25 were women in 2005 with the 138 District Chiefs Executives having 126 males and 12 females.

He said none of the political parties had so far chosen a woman as the running mate and said women had the right under national and international laws to actively participate in politics like their male counterparts.

Madam Paulina Abayage, Upper East Regional Director of the Department of Women who presented a paper on the “Importance of Women in Decision Making,” advocated that a legislation that allows for 40 per cent quota for women in the decision making process must be passed.

She noted that the affirmative action should be adopted in line with article 35 (5) of the constitution and asked for electoral laws to be reviewed to ensure that all political parties presented at least 40 per cent of their candidates as females.

Madam Abayage blamed the low level of the participation of women in the decision making process to religious, cultural practices and asked for the modification of negative cultural practices hampering the development of women.

Women, she noted, needed to be empowered by civil organizations to enable them to undertake political carriers and appealed to traditional authorities and opinion leaders to ensure that the girl child was sent to school.

The function was attended by Women Rights activists, political parties, assembly members, traditional leaders and media practitioners.

Source: GNA and

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Popular Artistes Workshop

At the Reflection Workshop with Popular Artistes
July 30, 2008

Group Picture taken after the Workshop

WunLove, The Kubolor and Takyiwaa Manuh during discussions

Gyedu Blay Ambolley, a well known popular musician in Ghana

Diana Hopeson, current President of MUSIGA, represents her small group
as she discusses a song text and possible alternatives

Nana Dansowaa Kena-Amoah and Mawell Addo

Nii Armah Dagadu and Dennis Abeiku discussing song texts

Post Workshop dinner

Awo Asiedu in a chat with Soha Rafaat Ibrahim

Mona Ibrahim Ali and Gyedu Blay Ambolley

Akosua Adomako Ampofo and Mona Ibrahim Ali

Pictures by Akofa A. Anyidoho

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Changing Portrayal of Women in Popular Music

‘Let’s have more positive lyrics about women’

Akofa Anyidoho and Nana Dansowaa Kena-Amoah

Daily Graphic, Saturday, August 30, 2008

Page 20, Entertainment

A forum dubbed The Reflection Workshop with Popular Artistes, which brought together researchers, popular artistes, disk jockeys and radio presenters to reflect on the messages encoded in popular song texts about women, was held at the Ellking Hotel in Accra on July 30th. The forum also sought to brainstorm alternative ways that women could be presented in popular music.

In attendance at the workshop which was facilitated by Prof. Akosua Anyidoho, the Director of NYU in Ghana, were RPC colleagues from Nigeria, Drs Bibi Bakare Yusuf and Charmaine Pereira, colleagues from Egypt, Drs Mona Ali Ibrahim and Sofa Rafaat, and from Ghana Prof. Takyiwaa Manuh, Drs Nana Akua Anyidoho and Sika Ahadzie. The project has also been working with the veteran musicologist Prof. John Collins. The musicians and radio presenters who attended the workshop included Mr. Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Mrs. Diana Hopeson, WunLov, DJ Abio, Nana Adjei Denkyebuor, Mr. Nii A. Dagadu, and Mr. Dennis Abieku.

The workshop was part of the research project, Changing Representations of Women in Popular Music, led by Prof. Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Head, Centre for Gender and Advocacy (CEGENSA) and Dr. Awo Mana Asiedu, Theatre Arts, both of the University of Ghana. This project is, in turn, part of larger research endeavour called, Pathways of Women’s Empowerment, involving an international consortium of researchers from academic institutions networking with women’s organisations, women’s rights groups and policy makers to examine and influence policy changes that affect women’s conceptions of empowerment, creating the framework for women in the public sphere and work and changing narratives of women’s sexualities. The Convenor of the West Africa Hub of the project is Prof. Takyiwa Manuh, the Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon.

Through an examination of the lyrics of some songs composed mainly by Ghanaian artistes, the participants found that the messages conveyed about women are often negative and tended to reinforce stereotypical societal perceptions of women. For example, they found that some of the songs focused on women’s bodies and portrayed them as sex objects, while others tended to portray women as fickle minded, unfaithful, money lovers, exploitative, competitive, gossips, submissive, jealous, etc.

The participants also found texts that portrayed positive images about women. For example, some of the texts reflected women as keepers of tradition and history, educators, counsellors, hardworking, virtuous, physically beautiful, virtuous, or as selfless and caring mothers/partners. Some of the lyrics on sexuality also portrayed positive notions of desire and female-male physical love. However, these positive representations in the collection of songs were by far fewer.

Discussing the negative representation of women in popular music, the resource person for the workshop, Prof. Akosua Anyidoho, stressed that such images might cause some girls and women to believe that those portrayals are what society expects of them, and they may fail to develop their potentials. She noted that popular music is a very powerful medium for (re)enforcing and dictating what is in vogue/fashionable or acceptable to society. Both the youth and adults look to popular music for relaxation and entertainment. The songs are played on radio and television, and in the latter case typically accompanied by musical videos which often depict women’s bodies through dance (often quite provocative).

Daily we hear music, booming from shops, restaurants, taxis, buses, lorries, etc. Social gatherings such as marriage ceremonies, naming ceremonies, funerals, commissioning of projects, etc. are deemed dull without music. Thus, the whole society, both young and old, is exposed to the songs and the messages musicians convey. The lyrics are repeated in daily conversations, and even children are heard repeating them during their play time in the streets, at school, or at home.

Based on the foregoing, the participants considered alternative representations of women. The artistes and the radio presenters agreed they needed to expose the public to songs that do not stereotype women. According to Diana Hopeson, President of Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), most songs about women are composed by men. She suggested therefore that women needed to be encouraged and supported to sing about themselves. There were calls to involve female musicians in setting new standards: to write alternative songs texts about themselves.

*** Editorial changes have been made to the original publication that was made in the Daily Graphic, as boldened in the article.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Making aid relevant to gender-equality

Making aid relevant to gender-equality
-The EC/UN Partnership
Daily Graphic, Tuesday, August 19, 2008. Page 11 (Gender and Children)
Salome Donkor

Between September 2 and 4 this year, ministers from over 100 countries and heads of bilateral and multilateral development agencies, donor organisations, and civil society organisations from around the world will assemble in Accra for the third High-Level Forum on aid effectiveness.

The conference is being held in recognition of the need to reform the process of development assistance to make it more responsive to the needs of developing countries and marginalised people in their fight against poverty by making aid more transparent, accountable and results-oriented.

The move towards a more equitable and gender responsiveness in the aid agenda over the years resulted in a conscious effort by the international community to reform the ways through which aid is delivered and managed.

They recognised that while the volumes of aid and other development resources must increase to achieve these goals, aid effectiveness must increase significantly, as well as support partner country efforts to strengthen governance and improve development performance. This is aimed at increasing the impact of aid in reducing poverty and inequality, increasing growth, building capacity and accelerating the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The commitment to achieve improved aid effectiveness and results was concretised in the late 1990s, when donors/aid agencies, in particular, began working with each other, and with partner countries, to harmonise these approaches and requirements.

The movement picked up steam in 2002 at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, and the last five years have been marked by a number of initiatives towards establishing a new aid architecture.

This culminated in a High-Level Forum on Harmonisation in Paris in March 2005, attended by heads of multilateral and bilateral development institutions, who resolved to take positive steps to reform ways to aid delivery and management.

The High-Level Forum followed up on the adoption of a Declaration that has come to be known as the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The declaration is grounded on five mutually reinforcing principles: Ownership, alignment, harmonisation, managing for results and mutual accountability.

As part of a programme to enhance the knowledge of the media in understanding the issues concerned with aid effectiveness, the European Commission (EC), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation (ITC-ILO) have launched the EC/UN Partnership on Gender Equality for Development and Peace. The partnership is to support stronger action on gender equality and women’s human rights in national development process and in co-operation programmes supported by the EC.

Consequently, a one-day training workshop was organised for journalists in Accra, to provide the opportunity for participants to interact and share ideas on international aid and development issues and to break down the technical terms of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

The participants, made up of representatives from both the print and electronic media, maintained that no country could attain accelerated development if a segment of the population was not involved in the planning and implementation of the development process. They said it was necessary to ensure that women, who constitute more than half of the population of a number of countries, were involved in development plans, while aid was implemented to meet the different needs of men, women, children and people with special needs.

Ms Afua B. Ansere, the National Programme Co-ordinator UNIFEM said aid effectiveness would be attained if monies flowing into a country as aid were more co-ordinated and used for the intended purpose, while recipients were more accountable for the aid received.

She said for Ghana to attain a middle-income status by 2015, and to make aid effectiveness more relevance to the country, it was important to link the international aid received by the country to gender equality and women empowerment, while looking at the proportion of money that was channeled into health, education and youth training, as well as reproductive health and maternal health care, water and sanitation and the provision of other social services.

Mrs Charity Binka, a member of the EC/UN Partnership, who made a presentation on the concepts of gender equality and women empowerment, said basically women were seen to perform reproductive roles, while men performed productive roles. She, however, indicated that gender was not a consequence of sex and did not mean that one group was better than the other, adding that “it involves the roles that we play in our homes, the society, the church and in our communities”. She said gender equality meant that men and women had the same rights, status and fair treatment regardless of their sex.

The Accra forum will among others review progress in improving aid effectiveness, broaden the dialogue to newer actors and chart a course for continuing international action on aid effectiveness.

The conference will conclude high-level discussions and negotiations around key issues, culminating in the endorsement of a ministerial statement — The Accra Agenda for Action — that aims to deepen implementation of the Paris Declaration.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Enhancing the status of Women

Enhancing the status of Women
-Ghana’s efforts over the years
Daily Graphic, Thursday, August 7, 2008. Page 11 (Gender and Children)
Salome Donkor

THE launch of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Combined Reports on Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), in Accra, recently provided a forum for the enumeration of measures taken over the years to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in the country.

The reports cover the period 1993 to 2003 and highlight progress made over the decade in achieving gender equality, as well as challenges and efforts being made by the government towards the realisation of women’s empowerment, equality, equity and sustainable development. It is being disseminated to all stakeholders who have a role in the implementation of the Convention.

The first section of the reports provides an update on Ghana’s socio-economic and political environment. It also discusses the position and status of women in Ghana since the submission of the first and second reports in 1991 and 1992, respectively.

The reports further evaluates what was achieved with regards to the implementation of the “ Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies for Promoting the Advancement of Women”, and “ The Platform For Action” adopted after the Beijing Conference.

The Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC) submitted the combined report, which was considered by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in August 2006.

State parties are enjoined under provisions of CEDAW to submit periodic reports to the committee on the elimination of discrimination against women and the three reports provided additional information on questions and issues raised in the report and offers a lot of issues for discussion.

The compilation of the report and other related documents of Ghana’s implementation of CEDAW has been made possible through the support and inputs from ministries, departments and agencies and civil society organisations in conjunction with development partners namely, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which provided financial and administrative support.

The 1992 Constitution of Ghana provides a framework for equality of all persons and outlaws discrimination on the basis of gender/sex. It promises to protect and promote all human rights and also prohibits all harmful customary practices.

Chapter 5 of the constitution deals with fundamental human rights and freedoms which conform to the international human rights framework. In addition, to the rights accorded to all persons, articles 22 and 27 deal specifically with women’s rights.

The Minister for Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC), Hajia Alima Mahama rightly pointed out during the launch of the reports that Ghana has made giant strides in the fulfilment of its national, regional and international commitment adding that Ghana demonstrated its commitment and political will by not only signing the convention, but also through the implementation of various strategies with the view of empowering women.

She was reported to have observed that the government and the people of Ghana had demonstrated their commitment to the tenets of the convention by ensuring that the Constitution and other policies and legislation were consistent with CEDAW.

She said sections of the 1992 Constitution, which guaranteed the fundamental human rights of every Ghanaian irrespective of race, place of origin, gender and freedom from discrimination, which she said were conformity with provisions of CEDAW.

In addition to these, the setting up of the National Council on Women and Development, now the Department of Women, after the 1975 Conference on Women, as a national machinery for women, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs in 2001 with a cabinet status, the passage of the Domestic Violence Bill and the setting up of the Women and Juvenile Unit, now the Domestic Violence and victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service, are all positive steps adopted over the past decade to enhance the status of women.

The report points to progress made in women’s health, education and economic empowerment, covering the period under review during which Ghana has seen three consecutive terms of constitutional rule. Despite these achievements the reports assert that some challenges remain in the area of politics, administration and medium and large-scale industrial development, while the percentage of illiterate women remains high, as compared to men.

Although some harmful traditional practices, such as widowhood rites and female genital mutilation have been criminalised under the Criminal Code Amendment Act 1998 (Act 554), women are still a long way from achieving equality and these practices persist in some communities due to existing stereotyped conceptions of women caused by socio-cultural factors which perpetuate discrimination based on sex.

For instance the reports mention that one of the thorny issues that needs to be dealt with is polygamy, which it said was an entrenched socio-cultural and religious practice that remained a big challenge to legislators and policy makers.

Nana Oye Lithur, the African Regional Co-ordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHI) said polygamy was still an issue and explained that sometimes it was difficult to determine who was the wife in a polygamous marriage after the husband with multiple wives, died intestate. She said that also raised a lot of issues in relation to property rights. Nana Oye also said although there had been a lot of interventions since 2006 when the reports were submitted, to address issues of maternal health, mentioning, the National Health Insurance Scheme and the recent introduction of free medical care for pregnant women, the issue of unsafe abortion was still outstanding.

She said people needed to be informed and provided with a comprehensive care to ensure that those who qualified under the law, had safe abortion.

She also mentioned the issue of witch camps in some parts of the country and explained that although it had traditional ramifications, efforts must be made to ensure that women perceived as witches, enjoyed their fundamental human rights, stipulated under the constitution.

Ms Gloria Ofori Boadu, President of the Women Assistance and Business Association (WABA) pointed out that women must be sensitised to encourage and support fellow women who aspire for positions in decision-making.

Ms Ofori Boadu, who contested and lost the Abuakwa South Constituency primaries on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party, indicated that although there were no laws in Ghana that bar women from participating in politics or in other areas of economic and social life;the cultural perception of women as inferior to men has been a major hinderance to women in politics and public life.

She said after all these years of advocacy, it was unfortunate for some people to think that women who got to decision-making positions would relegate their traditional roles to the background.She said there was still the need for increased women’s participation in decision-making at the district level, ministries, department and agencies since they formed about 52 per cent of the country’s population.

The reports also mentioned financial constraints to ensure wide publicity of the convention, for example, translation of articles of the convention into local dialects and incorporation of articles on the convention into the laws of Ghana.

They therefore stressed on the need for all stakeholders, as well as the international community to do more to support the implementation of all articles of the convention to enable the nation achieve the aspirations of gender equality, development and peace.

Promote Women’s role in Politics

Promote Women’s role in Politics
Daily Graphic, Thursday, August 7, 2008. Page 23
Daniel Nkrumah

The Director of the West Africa Regional Office of ABANTUA for Development, Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, has urged political parties to play an active role to promote affirmative action policies to increase women’s involvement in politics.

She said by virtue of the fact that political parties had control over nomination processes, it was critical that such a request was put on their doorstep.

In a presentation at the Third Daily Graphic Governance Dialogue, Dr. Mensah-Kutin noted the low level of women representation in Parliament had been identifies as having implications for their well being and their ability to change the culture, practices and outcomes of politics of the country.

“The evidence seems to suggest that even tough civil society organisations are pushing the political parties to focus on the real issues confronting this nation, it does not seem that a gender responsive politics of inclusion, with all the complexities is emerging,” she stated.

She added that in as much as there had been enhanced awareness and discussions of issues of women participation in politics, the political landscape still does not seem to be moving in the direction where concrete actions were being put in place to guarantee that “critical mass” in the political space.

“It is a fact that active presence in terms of numbers may not necessarily transform national politics. But evidence from other countries shows that it can enhance the visibility of women as a minimum condition for addressing gender-power relations within the public decision-making processes over a period of time,” she noted.

She added that the move towards a more equitable and gender responsive governance system had to consciously involved women at all levels.

Dr. Mensah-Kutin stated that the continuous engagement with social, political and economic decision making was critical in deepening the direct link between gender and democratic governance.

She noted that although there had been significant changes in family relations, education, work and status, the lot of women had not changed.

She said women in the country continued to face discriminatory practices, in sufficient access to land, and control of resource such as land, capital and technology.

She added that other issues of concern were the treatment of women by the media in terms of ideology, representation and participation; the negative impacts of conflicts on their well being; the incidence of gender violence and the lack of sufficient financial support and commitment for the promotion of gender equality.

“We therefore need to commit to looking at our governance system and how it can be transformed to benefit both women and men on an equitable basis,” she stated.

She said there was also the need to support women who were active in politics and work with political parties “to promote a transformatory agenda that questions patriarchal authority, promotes women’s rights and moves toward the vision that builds solidarity and also mobilises and advances a gender responsive and inclusive democratic system.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hearing Women’s Voices in Politics

Hearing Women’s Voices in Politics
- WiLDAF takes initiative
Daily Graphic, Thursday, July 24, 2008. Page 11 (Gender and Children)
Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah and Gifty Appiah-Adjei

Barely five months away, Ghanaians will go to the polls to elect a President and 230 parliamentarians to be in charge of the country’s decision-making.

However, the issues of low participation of women in decision-making have been of critical concerns to women and civil society organisations.

Available statistics indicate that women occupy only 25 (11 percent) out of the 230 seats in Parliament, comprising 20 females from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and five from the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

At the district assembly level, women constitute 10 percent of assembly members, while in Public Service, there are only five female chief directors as against 30 male chief directors.

The country also has three female members of the Council of State as against 21 males, four females ministers out of 30 and 14 female deputy minsters out of 49.

The situation has taken a nosedive as already six women out of the twenty five who are currently in Parliament are not contesting in the in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Female MPs such as Ms Anna Nyamekye (Jaman South) and Ms Hilda Josephine Adoo (Kwadaso) lost their bid to come to the next Parliament to males during the primaries, while Mrs Gladys Asmah (Takoradi), Ms Christine Churcher (Cape Coast), Ms Theresah Amerley Tagoe (Ablekuma South) and Mrs Grace Coleman (Effiduase-Asokere), all of whom did not contest during the primaries, have had their slots filled by men.

It will therefore, be a miracle, if women are to maintain the current 11 per cent representation in Parliament, let alone go beyond it.

But all is not lost as there has been a steady increase in the appointment of females in leader positions since 2001. Mention can be made of the Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Wood; the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mrs Elizabeth Mills-Robertson, and recently the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Professor Jane Naana Opopku-Ageymang.

It is against this background that the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs and a lot of civil society organisations have stepped up their advocacy to push women issues to the forefront and make sure that women make an impact during the December elections and beyond.

One of such organisations that has [recently] launched a programme [aimed at increasing] the number of women elected into public office and highlighting gender equality and women’s empowerment concerns is the Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) Ghana.

Dubbed, “We Know Politics: hearing Women’s Voices in Ghana’s 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections,” the programme seeks to connect Ghanaians from all walks of life – including citizens from rural areas, aspiring presidential and parliamentary candidates, women’s rights non-governmental organisations, the media and legal literacy volunteers/paralegals- to ensure that women issues are raised during this year’s campaigning and the next four years.

The project will embark on a national capacity building leadership workshop for 40 leaders of women’s rights organisations and organise 10 regional consultations involving 500 women and gender advocates to include women’s concerns in the elections.

Again, the project will televise a live Women’s Dialogue between presidential candidates and women from all backgrounds across the country, to inform citizens of their civil rights, the roles of their parliamentarians and encourage them to vote for female candidates through public information and awareness activities.

There will also be an encounter with the leaders of the churches who worship on Sundays to impress upon them about the need to cut short their service to enable their members to have time to vote.

The “We Know Politics” project will organise training sessions for 200 legal literacy volunteers/paralegals from all the 10 regions of Ghana to educate citizens at the district and local levels on their responsibilities during the elections and lobby eminent Ghanaians and key media analysts to include gender concerns in election discussions.

The British Department for International Development (DFID) and the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Ghana are sponsoring the project.

Launching the project, a Member of the Council of State, Mrs Gifty Afenyi-Dadzie, stated that there were many issues of concern to women that must be tackled by politicians, the government, the private sector and civil society.

She mentioned some of these concerns as violence against women, health, economic, empowerment and property rights, among others, and noted that these could be addresses when women deliberated on them with one voice.

“I believe that because women’s numbers count during the elections, no politician would want to ignore what women are saying,” she added.

She explained that the collective agenda of women in Ghana was important, since “each one of us has a role to play in ensuring that issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment do not remain only in the books but are realities that transform lives of the very vulnerable in society.”

She called on women to act and not just talk, in order to achieve goals they had set for themselves.

In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister of Women and Children Affairs, Hajia Alima Mahama, called on women to improve their skills in public speaking, lobbying and communication as these qualities were critical within the political arena.

She advised women in politics not to allow problems such as low education and lack of financial and material resources to be a barrier in their bid to enhance their participation in politics and decision-making.

The Social Development Advisor of DFID, Dr Sonya Sultan, commended Ghana for giving much attention to issues such as girls’ education, women’s health and employment opportunities.

She however expressed regret at women’s participation in politics, explaining that it was not always easy for women to contribute to political debates.

“A robust democracy requires that political debates, especially at a crucial time such as the run-up to the general election include issues of general concern to women in Ghana, who, after all account for half the electorate,” she said.

The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Lidi Remmelzwaad, expressed hope that the project would help deepen the debate on issues of gender equity and help address the existing imbalance to achieve a more equitable representation of women in all spheres of the Ghanaian society.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

House leadership learn about gender issues

House leadership learn about gender issues
The Ghanaian Times, Tuesday, July 15, 2008. Page 4 (News)
Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

The leadership of Parliament is attending a gender training workshop on mainstreaming of gender issues into the work of the House.

The two-day training which started yesterday is being organised by the Office of Parliament with support from the Parliamentary Centre, a Canadian non-governmental organisation.

It is aimed at increasing members’ knowledge and understanding on the concept of gender.

The programme is under the Ghana Parliamentary Committee Support phase two which also aims at strengthening accountability, transparency and participation in parliamentary governance in the country.

Marilyn Aniwa, In-country Coordinator of the Parliamentary Centre, said it is imperative that parliamentarians and the leadership in parliament are conversant with gender challenges so that they would make meaningful contributions to shape policy direction.

She said gender issues are relevant during elections to encourage more women representation in the work of parliament.

Ms Aniwa expressed concern about women representation in parliament adding that some women who were playing key roles in the work of parliament had lost the primaries [therefore were unable] to contest in the December elections.

Mrs Joana Opare, a gender trainer, said it was important for politicians to “put on their gender cap” so that they could plan well with the minted resources to satisfy the needs of the various groups in the society.

She said gender was not an abstract concept but had to do with equal allocation of resources to meet the demands of both females and males.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Training workshop organised for DOVVSU

Training workshop organised for DOVVSU
Daily Graphic, Thursday, July 10, 2008. Page 11 (Gender & Children)

A three-day training workshop has been organised for 35 newly posted staff to the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service.

A released issued by the Public Affairs Officer of DOVVSU, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Freeman Tettey, said the course was sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

It said that participants were lectured on the rights and protection of children, child abuse, child labour and domestic violence. The release said the other topics were on Interviewing and Counselling of Victims and Perpetrators of Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking, Children and Juvenile Justice Acts, Investigating Child related cases, Data Management and Coordination of Domestic Violence activities were also taught.

It said the Director-General of the Human Resource Development of the Ghana Police Service, Commissioner of Police Mrs Joana Osei Poku, charged DOVVSU staff to discharge their duties towards the public with professionalism. It said that she urged them to ensure that perpetrators of domestic violence were brought to book whilst at the same time offering full protection to all victims of abuse.

The release said Mrs Osei Poku assured that public that DOVVSU would continue to champion the cause against domestic violence and all forms of abuses. It said she entreated the victims and witness to report perpetrators of abuse to the unit.

It said the Co-ordinating Director of DOVVSU, ACP Mrs Beatrice Vib-Sanziri, asked participants to practicalise their newly acquired skills on domestic violence cases. The release said Mrs Vib-Sanziri expressed appreciation to UNICEF for its continuous assistance to the unit particularly in the areas of logistics and capacity building.

It said forms of assistance she believed had brought the unit to this level, winning public confidence to the point of its nomination bas one of the few government institutions to win the presidential award.

It said a child protection specialist with UNICEF, Mr Eric Okrah, emphasised the importance of networking with all service providers in the field domestic violence. The release said he, therefore, asked participants to endeavour to be actively involved in a recently established Child Abuse Network which was aimed at forming a coordinated and comprehensive network for all interest groups and individuals. It said Mr Okrah also emphasised the importance of proper documentation of all domestic violence cases by the unit to enable the trend to be properly monitored and controlled.

It said certificates were presented to the participants.

Monday, June 30, 2008

People at the Textual Analysis Workshop

Textual Analysis Workshop- 9th June, 2008

Nana Dansowaa Kena-Amoah, Research Assistant-CEGENSA

Anne-Marie Burgeios, Intern- CEGENSA
and the ICT Directorate

Dzodzi Tsikata, Akosua Darkwa and Nana Akua Anyidoho
WE RPC-Ghana researchers
(Left to Right)

Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Team leader
-Changing Representation of Women in Popular Culture Project

Edward Gborgbor, Research Assistant-CEGENSA and Awo Asiedu, Co-team leader
of Changing Representation of Women in Popular Culture Project
(Left to Right)

Akosua Darkwah and Nana Akua Anyidoho

Akosua Anyidoho, Lingusitics Professor and Coordinator of NYU in Ghana

Textual Analysis tutoring session

Photo Credits: Akofa A. Anyidoho

Gender Networks established for MDAs

Gender Networks established for MDAs
The Ghanaian Times, Monday, June 30, 2008. Page 21
Dorothy Ankomah

The Ministry of Women and Children’s Affair (MOWAC) has instituted an Inter Ministerial Gender Network within ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to help improve coordination in mainstreaming gender into all sector policies, programmes and activities.

The sector minister, Hajia Alima Mahama, announced this on Thursday at a one National Information and Sensitisation Seminar on the ECOWAS Gender and Development Centre (EGDC). The seminar was in pursuance of establishing, developing, facilitating and coordinating among others to ensure that matters related to disparities are incorporated within the framework of the objectives of the ECOWAS treaty.

Addressing the gathering, Hajia Mahama said the government in its 2008 budget and economic policy statement asked the ministry and two others to facilitate the processes of achieving gender responsiveness across all sectors. The others are the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP) and the Nation Development Planning Commission (NDPC). That, she explained, is to enhance governments’ efforts addressing critical issues relating to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Hajia Mahama said under the micro-credit programme of the ministry, funds are allocated to vulnerable and organised women’s groups on the fringes of subsistence economy. She noted that apart from gender mainstreaming, women’s groups are also mobilised and offered skill training in micro-finance, group dynamics, entrepreneurial skills and bamboo handicrafts.

Hajia Mahama applealed to the Director of ECOWAS Gender and Development Centre (EGDC) to include gender budgeting in its training programme to facilitate the effective achievement of its national goals.

The Action Director of ECOWAS Gender and Development Centre (EGDC), Aminata Dibba, in a speech, said the most fundamental development challenges facing the ECOWAS region have to do with widespread gender disparities and inequalities which she noted underpin the absence of adequate opportunities for women to participate effective in the country. She said though numerous efforts were made over the years the attainment of gender equity and equality as well as the empowerment of women continues to be a challenge to the development process of the ECOWAS region.

Ms Dibba said it is in recognition of the significance of gender equity and equality to sustainable development of that region that ECOWAS Heads of states and governments decided in January 2003 to set up the ECOWAS Gender and Development Centre. She said she its establishment, the ECOWAS Gender Centre has initiated a number of programmes aimed at bringing together stakeholders to identify measure for achieving gender equality within the context of the integration process in the ECOWAS region.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Trokosi still persists-Study

A case of a disempowering practice in Ghana where innocent girls and women are made to pay for the ‘sins’ of a family member.

Trokosi still persists-Study
The Ghanaian Times, Thursday, June 26, 2008. Page 21 (Business News)
Francis Tuffour, Ada Foah

Despite the passage of the Criminal Amendment Code/Act in 1998 which criminalises trokosi, servitude practice, it still persists under cover in some communities, a study has shown.

The national study on trokosi practice in Ghana was discussed at a dissemination workshop at Ada Foah, in the Dangme East district of the Greater Accra region on Tuesday.

The trokosi system is a traditional cult slavery practice where young virgin girls are confined to fetish shrines as reparation to deities for wrongs purported to have been committed by a member of a girl’s family. The offences of the ‘incarceration’ range from trivial issues like stealing of a tuber of cassava to grievous matters such as robbery or murder. The truth is claimed to be ascertained at the shrines.

The study was conducted by Sosthens K. Kufogbe, Senior Lecturer, at the Geography Dept of the University of Ghana, Legon, with the support of Australia Aid.

In a presentation at the workshop, Mr. Kufogbe described as sad the continuous existence of the practice in spite of the law that makes it an offence, adding that “people should not pretend that nothing is going on or think the practice has stopped because the law frowns on it.” He said the practice persists due to lack of enforcement of the law by responsible government institutions.

Mr. Kufogbe noted that the research conducted in seven communities in the Volta and Greater Accra regions revealed that 278 of trokosi victims mainly women, are still languishing or are going through such ordeal in various shrines. In North Tongu, in the Volta region, he said 57 trokosi are serving in six shrines, 15 are serving in four shrines in South Tongu district, 21 are in two shrines at Akatsi and 20, are in three shrines in Keta. Others are in Ketu with six shrines 150 trokosis, 10 in two shrines in the Dangme West district, while eight are serving two shrines in the Dangme East district of the Greater Accra region.

He said apart from those who are incarcerated at the shrines, other victims who live outside the shrines, visit to undergo ritual practices. They go at night and at dawn, for fear of being stigmatised or arrested.

Mr. Kufogbe said the study also disclosed that other people visit the shrine for other purposes including seeking protection, political power or pregnancy. He said a dehumanising aspect of the practice is the perpetual reparation which means that, whenever a victim dies, she has to be replaced with another young virgin or woman. The aspect ensures the continuity of the practice and provides perpetual source of young virgins to the shrines, which makes it difficult for them to pursue their education.

According to the report some of the fetish priests have accepted to stop the practice in compliance with the law, but some people still send their relatives to the shrine to undergo trokosi.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Women enjoy being beaten by their male partners?

Women enjoy beatings by husbands
The Ghanaian Times, Friday, June 20, 2008. Front Page
Sandra D. Nyamkye

The Ghana Multiple Cluster Surveys (MICS) 2006, was on Tuesday launched in Accra, with a startling revelation that women generally accept beatings by their husbands.

The survey indicated that 47 percent of women believer that men beating their wives are justified.

The MICS is a nationally representative multi-purpose household survey developed to gather information on some indicators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The survey provided up-to-date information for assessing the situation of women and children in the country.

Speaking at the launch, Prof. Nicholas N. Nuamah, Deputy Government Statistician, was surprised that some women were not bothered by the maltreatment meted out to them by their husbands and even go to their aid when arrested. “It is very shocking that a higher percentage of women than men justify wife beating, with the highest proportion of women in rural areas than the urban areas,” he said.

Prof. Nsowah-Nuamah said that women in the Northern regions, especially the Upper West region are the highest victims of wife beating while the Greater Accra region was the lowest. He stated that with the help of MICS, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has been able to conduct survey that will help the country in attaining its MDGs.

Dr, Yasmin Hague, United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Resident Representative, who threw more light on MICS said the MICS was originally developed by UNICEF to measure progress towards an internationally agreed set of goals that emerged from the 1990 World Summit for Children. She said that the first round of MICS was conducted around 1995 in more than 60 countries.

The second round, she added, was conducted in 200 with increasing wealth of data which, she said, aided the monitoring of the situation of women and children in the country. “MICS presented an excellent opportunity to both monitor and provide baselines for UNICEF’s interventions in the country,” she added.

The MICS 2006 highlighted some positive results as it was revealed that more than three quarters of children between the ages of one and two received appropriate immunisation from health centres. Dr Hague said more than three quarters of the population have access to improved sources of drinking water and more than 90 percent of pregnant women have received medical care from health centres.

Major (rtd) Courage Quarshigah, Minister of Health, commended GSS and UNICEF for the hard work done. He appealed to them to help find a solution to the treatment of malaria, adding the cost of malaria burden in 2006 alone summed up to 762 million dollars.

Financial assistance for Women advocated

Financial assistance for Women advocated
The Ghanaian Times, Friday, June 20, 2008. Page 27 (Business News)
Augustine Cobba-Biney

The surest way for Africa’s economic development is to offer more financial assistance to women, says Theopista Sekitto, Wholesale Manager of the DFCU Bank in Uganda.

She pointed out that women are better financial managers and more accountable, transparent, trustworthy and thus must become the focus for the development of the African financial sector. Mrs. Sekitto was addressing an international partnership forum on the topic, “Making finance work for African women,” in Accra on Wednesday.

Over 200 leaders of African and international financial institutions, government officials, central banker, researchers and experts attended the forum to discuss priorities for development of the African financial sector.

Mrs. Sekitto noted that women entrepreneurs are a dynamic and powerful economic force in society today. “There are increasing numbers of women entrepreneurs who are committed to the success of business,” she said.

Mrs. Sekitto stated that women are better advocates than men and had better repayment culture. “Women are better payers, more committed, focused in terms of meeting their obligation. They buy less on price than service and will pay more for convenience of service,” she said.

In Uganda for instance, she said 39 percent of all registered businesses are owned by women. Mrs. Sekitto stressed the need to recognise the potential of women and offer them the needed assistance to increase productivity and enhance progress. “If we are to build a just society where everyone had the opportunity to fulfill their potential, women have to be supported fully,” she said.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Workshop with Popular Artistes-Coming Soon!

Upcoming-Reflection Workshop with Popular Artistes

Popular musicians are powerful conveyors of ideas and in constituting popular culture. The lyrics of songs are repeated in everyday discourse and find their way into explanations on women's intrinsic "nature" and pronouncements on how gender relations should occur, often even justifying the unjust treatment of women. For example, Ghanaian highlife songs often portray women as scheming, greedy, and untrustworthy, but also as great mothers and faithful lovers.

Very little work has been done to examine gendered images in popular culture. One of the projects of the West Africa RPC hub explores the ways in which women are represented in different music genres, and by different artistes since the 1950s. We examine the main themes about women in the song lyrics, both explicit and implicit, focusing on narratives of women's bodies and their roles as workers, providers, caregivers, lovers. The project also seeks to encourage these popular artistes to be more reflexive in their conceptions of women, to write alternative lyrics, and hence to seek new ways of representing women that challenge negative stereotypes and that women might find empowering. This we will do through two specific activities – an artistes' reflection workshop, and subsequently, a song competition in which songs will be judged for content (lyrics and their arrangement) as well as rhythm and melody.

The reflection workshop takes place in July 2008 and will bring together:

- Popular musicians;

- members of the Association of Musicians,

- The media especially journalists for entertainment pages,

- hosts of TV and radio music programmes;

- DJs;

- and possibly a few 'Consumers' of music products, especially young people and those in professions that allow for a great deal of music listening in the course of their work – such as public transport drivers and domestic workers.

The workshop format will include listening to music, reflecting on song texts, and conversations around possible alternative texts. RPC members will share from some of our on-going textual analyses of song lyrics.

Prof. Akosua A. Ampofo

Dr. Awo Asiedu

Monday, May 12, 2008

WE RPC-Ghana Photo Competition-Submission Rules

Revised and Updated Photo Competition Brief
changing images of women in ghana
WE RPC is an international research consortium, which brings together academics, activists and practitioners working to advance women locally, regionally and through global policy processes. The consortium brings into partnership 5 research institutions of excellence in policy, advocacy and applied feminist research on women’s empowerment. Each centre is a focal point for regional networking, research and dialogue, bringing together researchers, activists, policy makers and practitioner partners from across the region, and, working in close association with UNIFEM to contribute their experiences and create opportunities for action research regionally and internationally.
Explaining the theme
Changing images of Women in Ghana will confront existing myths and stereotypes of women. The photographs for this competition can be entered in 4 different categories. Each applicant can enter a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 photographs in each category. The sub-themes are:
1. Women’s empowerment,
(2) Work,
(3) Sexuality,
(4) Building constituencies for equality & justice.

Time Lines
Contestants’ Briefing meeting Friday, 20th June, 2008
Deadline for Submitting Photo Entries Friday, 15th August, 2008
Announcement of Winners Monday, 15th September, 2008 on
The first prize is a Canon 400D digital camera. However, all short listed and winning images will be exhibited locally and possibly internationally. The proceeds of any images that might be sold will go to the individual artist. The RPC will always credit the individual photographer, and the full copyright remains with the photographer; however, the RPC will retain the right to use the images to enhance the conception of women in Ghana and to provoke discussion.

Please remember all images must be documentary/reportage photography!
DIGITAL (Highly Recommended):
  1. When taking the image always shoot on highest quality JPEG, TIFF or ideally RAW file formats. Never shoot on low quality JPEG! If you shoot on low quality we will not be able to print them to exhibition size.
  2. Save the images you select for the competition as high resolution JPEG or as TIFFs. Please make a word document with your name and contact details and caption for each image, indicating the category/sub-theme the image belongs to. The caption should give details of the person you and/or your reason for shooting that image.
  3. Burn the images and word document onto a CD and deliver to the Programme Administrator.
  4. Remember also to write your name and contact details on the CD!
  5. After the end of the competition you are free to pick up your CD after 22nd September, 2008.
  1. Enter large prints into the competition; please give each one a number.
  2. Please include a written document with your name and contact details and caption for each image. The caption should give details of the person you shot, and/or your reason for shooting that image.
  3. Put the prints and text document in an envelope and deliver to the Programme Administrator.
  4. After the end of the competition you are free to pick up your prints after 22nd September, 2008.
Submit Entries to:
The Programme Administrator
WE RPC-Ghana Hub
Institute of African Studies
University of Ghana
For further information:
E-mail: (ATTN: Photo Competition)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a 72-minute, documentary feature featuring Liberian women's relentless pursuit of peace in Liberia after the notorious dictator, Charles Taylor was elected President in 1996.

Click on the following links to view sites about the movie:

Pray the Devil Back to Hell
Tribeca Film

Friday, May 2, 2008

People at the WE RPC Ghana Photography Workshop

Above are people who were at the WE RPC Photography/Video Workshop. Pictures of our work will be up soon!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Politics in Ghana: Female political phobia, male resistance?

Politics in Ghana: Female political phobia, male resistance?

Daily Graphic, Tuesday, April 29, 2008. Page 11 (Women’s World)

Nana Oye Lithur (Women and the Law)

I was disappointed when Prof. John Evans Atta Mills did not select Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu as his running mate for the 2008 presidential elections in Ghana.

I have personally and publicly endorsed three women leaders for the 2008 elections; Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Hajia Alima Mahama, as running maters for Prof Atta Mills and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo respectively, and Gloria Ofori Boadu to contest on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the Abuakwa South Constituency.

I have endorsed them because they have a lot to offer Ghana in terms of their leadership skills, values, vision and commitment to working to build a better Ghana. Failing to include them in out political leadership at the topmost level will be a missed opportunity for Ghana.

Notwithstanding my disappointment after Prof. Mill’s failure ton nominate Aunty Betty, as we all call her, I believe she has taken the Ghana women movement’s call for greater voice and a more visible participation of women in Ghana politics a notch higher by her campaign and bid for the running mate slot of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

With the demise of Hawa Yakubu, who would have been a perfect presidential candidate for the NPP, I thought all was lost, but Betty Mould-Iddrisu proved that all was not lost. I also agree with Doris Dartey that we Ghanaian women should aspire to greater heights the mundane running mates of ‘male presidential candidates.’

I am sure the current situation of female political phobia, male and or society’s resistance to seeing a female presidential candidate or running mate has occasioned the frequently asked question as whether Ghanaians are ready to vote for a female president. I will not provide an answer; I would like you to provide your own answers.

I, for my part, have been interrogating the statement by Elizabeth Stanton in 1848, adopted at the Weslyan Chapel, Seneca falls, about the truth of men and women being created equal.

I have also debunked the social liberalism theory of citizenship in liberal democracies that says equal and full citizenship for all adults exists within a territory and that with the disappearance of feudalism and slavery, and the inclusion of all adults in suffrage, political inequality has been eliminated.

I will repeat what W. Brown said, that ‘more than any other kind of human activity, politics has historically borne an explicitly masculine identity, and has been more exclusively limited to men than any realm of endeavour.’

With the prevalence of neo-patrimonial rule in Africa, Ghana included, and the opening up of political space in Ghana, I wonder why the Ghana Women’s Movement has not been assertive at claiming their portion of the political space. Our women’s movement has failed to provide one strong voice to call for inclusion of women in our political structures across party lines.

Despite the fact that those women’s groups are independent and have not been politicised, or constrained by government, we have failed to take advantage of our political context to demand policy changes and fight for greater political equality.

We succeeded in adopting the Women’s Manifesto and have been given our support to the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs but have stopped short at the door of Ghanaian politics, and have decided to remain apolitical; we have marginalised our leadership and voice preferring to focus on the ‘more family oriented’ issues of family planning, domestic violence, abortion, health, child care, etc. Why have we done so?

Women’s interest in politics has obviously increased. This is evident in the numbers that stood for local government elections, and that number s that have filed nominations to be selected as parliamentary candidates for the various political parties.

The challenge is that all these prospective female candidates need the strong wave of a unified women’s movement to push them forward. The women’s movement should be mobilising for political reform in Ghana, to create that voice and visibility on our political landscape for us.

We have a huge women’s movement in the church, and the mosques, they have focused heavily on religion, especially the Christian Women’s Movement preferring to pray and seek God’s intervention, they have successfully prayed for oil, prayed for restoration of electricity and are praying and fasting for good leaders.

They are good leaders and we want them on board. I am praying that Jesus speaks to them and they see the political light soon and the need to participate in politics.

Are there biblical teachings against participation of women in politics? Why are Christian Women groups failing to interrogate our politicians, and why do they stick to prayers and family matters? Jesus Christ is the most political anti-establishment personality I have read about, so were Mary Magdalene and Mary, the Virgin Mother. They used their religion and faith to make the world better, what about our Ghanaian Christian and Moslem sisters?

Reading a publication by Ali Mari Tripp on women and politics in Uganda, it is obvious that the Uganda women’s movement was able to assert itself because of the autonomy of the women’s organisations.

They benefited from a populist government that encouraged women’s participation. They also built a movement across ethnicity, religion and class. What have we, in the movement in Ghana done with our autonomy?

Male and societal resistance against a greater voice for women in political in Ghana will exist, but can be dismantled. The greater challenge for us is rather female phobia for politics, which the women’s movement in Ghana has to confront and address. Politics is not dirty, a critical voice in politics for women will help lift Africa and indeed Ghana out of the crisis we find ourselves.

The challenge is being thrown to the Women’s Movement in Ghana to stand up to the challenge, and to support our courageous women who have offered themselves to serve Ghana.

Anyway, where is and who is the Women’s Movement?