Thursday, May 20, 2010

EC’s package for women

EC’s package for women
Daily Graphic, Thursday, 20th May, 2010: Back Page
Daniel Nkrumah

The Electoral Commission (EC) has announced a package to encourage more women to contest in the upcoming district level elections schedule for October 26, this year.

The Women’s Candidates Support Package is set to be introduced, with financia support from the European Union, and it will include training workshops to be attended solely by female candidates.

A Commissioner of the EC, Mrs. Pauline Adobea Dadzawa, disclosed this at a press conference in Accra yesterday.

The press conference, which was on the theme, “The 2010 District Level Election, What is in it for women in Ghana,” was organized by Abantu for Development, Women in Broadcasting and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

She indicated that the package was in recognition of the peculiar challenged women faced. “We at the commission believe that it is not enough to tell women that they are free to avail themselves to be voted for. We also believe that if the odds are weighed heavily against them, accomplishing their goals will be elusive,” she said.

She added that the EC believed that full participation of women in the electoral process was key to the growth of democracy.

“it is our fervent hope that even as we support women in our areas of operation, other methods such as quota representation, may be applied to bridge the gap between numbers of men and women in the political arena,” she added.

She advised women candidates to resist the temptation of being discouraged or confused with provocative remarks and questions and urged them to rather maintain their focus and speak on the issues.

Mrs. Dadzawa stated that the EC would deepen it commitment to encourage women to participate in the forthcoming elections.

She said that this was in line with its policy of gender mainstreaming, a conscious effort would be made, where possible, to give priority to the recruitment of women as temporary poll workers. She said the temporary toll workers to be employed for the district elections included returning officers, presiding officers, coordinating presiding officers and polling assistants.

The Deputy Chairman in charge of Programmed at the National Commission of Civic Education (NCCE), Mr Baron Y. Amoafo, stated that in 2005, with the support of the Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund (DGTTF), the NCCE, the EC and the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs undertook intensive leadership training programmed for potential women candidates for the 2006 district level elections.

He added that in order to ensure a sustainable plan for effective women’s participation in governance, the NCCE, through its civic education clubs in senior secondary schools (SHSs), also undertook an intensive tour of selected SHSs throughout the country to whip up enthusiasm among young female students to be interested in taking up leadership positions in the near future.

He indicated that the NCCE had already captured in its plan for the public education on the 2010 district level elections programmes to empower women to participate actively in the elections.

He said it would also hold a capacity-building programme for it staff to cover issues on gender inequality and a number of programmes to enhance women’s participation in the upcoming district level elections.

The Resident Director of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Daniela Kuzu, noted that the fact that Ghana had signed the UN Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the establishment a Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs was an indication that the country was taking the issues of gender equality seriously.

She, however, stated that the country’s performance in terms of gender equality needed to be improved significantly. “To take the national elections of 2004 and 2008 as an example, it is of concern that in 2004 only 10.8 percent of the seats in parliament were taken by women. In 2008, it was even reduced to 7.89 per cent,” she stated.

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