Thursday, April 22, 2010

‘Let’s support women in local government’

‘Let’s support women in local government’
Daily Graphic; Thursday, April 22, 2010; Page 11 (Gender & Children)
Salome Donkor

The role of women in politics and public office is one of the current burning governance issues because of the perceived and acknowledged potential and contribution of women to governance processes.

Gender and policy advocacy organisations recognize that improving the lives of women and other members of society require a balanced gender representation in government structures by promoting greater responsiveness to women in politics and decision-making,

For some women who want to enter national politics, governance at the various levels, namely by the local or district, regional and national, is crucial to them, since it provides them with good training grounds to improve their chances of being elected to political office to promote gender-balance in decision-making at all levels.

The involvement of more women in politics and decision-making is expected to meet their interests and basic needs and enable them continue to influence policies from a gender perspective and addressing inequalities and injustices in social relationships.

The local government system has therefore become good grounds for some women, who want to enter into national politics. But the most difficult challenge that confront most women intending to enter into local government, is lack of funds.

The support women in the 2006 District Assembly elections, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC), launched the “Women in Local Government Fund” to assist women aspirants.

According to the Public Relations Officer of MOWAC, Mrs. Adiza Ofori-Adu, each of the 1, 772 women who contested the 2006 District Assembly elections, received GH¢20.00 for their campaign activities.

She said the Department of Women in the various regions have been task to work in collaboration with the district assemblies and identify 20 women from each district to support them to take part in the forthcoming district assembly elections.

Speaking at a day’s review meeting on “Challenges and Prospects of Women in Decision-Making Positions,” in Koforidua recently, the Eastern Regional Director of the Department of Women, Ms Jane Kwapong, re-emphasised the need for the private sector, corporate bodies and related organizations and individuals to financially support the “Women in Local Government Fund.”

She said society should see gender equality as a tool for sustainable development and called for support and encouragement by both men and women to ensure that more women were elected in the forthcoming district assembly elections.

Participants were drawn from civil society organisations , women’s groups, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Gender Desk Officers and assembly women.

She urged political parties to promote equal rights and opportunities for women and men to engage in political activities and take further steps to elect women in their “safe constituencies” to contest parliamentary elections increase the number of women in parliament.

She said since women’s reproductive roles tended to militate against their participation in politics and other decision-making processes, there was need to encourage the sharing of household responsibilities to enable more women to participate in public life.

The Member of Parliament for New Jauben South, Madam Beatrice B. Boateng, who is also an elected assembly member of the New Jauben Municipal Assembly, advised women to rise above reproach in the face of all changes and prove their worth, stressing that some women had been able to make it, despite the challenges.

She mentioned poverty as a major challenge that prevented women from aspiring to greater heights and pointed out that the problems could be overcome with determination, perseverance, hard work and optimism.

Mr. Rex Baah Antiri of Ghana Education Service (GES) appealed to the government to create an enabling environment that would strengthen women to be part of decision-making, especially at higher levels.

He called for sustained efforts to deal with all forms of violence against women and repressive cultural practices against women to enable them contribute their quota to development.

Participants suggested that efforts should be intensified to address the issues of gender stereotyping, as well as speed up the socialization process and gender equality, adding that the empowerment of women should not be limited to those in towns and cities, but extended to rural women as well.

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