Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gender Activists assist women aspirants

Gender Activists assist women aspirants
Daily Graphic, Tuesday, 4th May, 2010: Page 11; (Gender and Children)
Nurudeen Salifu, Tamale.

Gender rights activists have launched a project designed to improve women’s participation in the forthcoming district assembly elections in the Upper West Region.

Dubbed, “The All Political Rights Project,” the project will provide the requisite resources for women aspirants to participate in the 2010 district assembly elections and assist them to campaign effectively and win elections.

It will also build the capacities of female aspirants and put together well-planned campaign strategies that will encourage the electorate to vote for women during the elections.

Speaking at the launch of the project, the Upper West Regional Director of Women and member of the Women’s Manifesto Coalition, Mrs. Kate Bob Millar, underscored the need to give legal backing to the affirmative action policy aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in political representation both at the local and national levels.

She said “if there was a national lack backing these directives and commitments, there would be no way of escaping their implementation.” She added that an affirmative action policy backed by the law, was therefore, the best option, to improve women’s representation in governance since it would make it mandatory for state authorities to give fair representation to women as a matter of law, not out of sympathy.

Some gender advocates at the programme argued that the issuance of directives and commitments regarding the appointment of women to political posts had not yield much result, since there was no legal framework to enforce such directives.

They noted that although various political administrations had committed themselves to allocate a proportion of positions to women these pledges had not been fulfilled. They also noted that these administrations had equally given directives to the effect that 30 or 50 per cent of government appointees to district assemblies should be women, but these had also not been adhered to.

The Foundation for Female Photojournalists (FFP), together with the Women’s Manifesto Coalition is spearheading the project, with support from the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS).

Six regions have been selected to benefit from the programme. They are Northern, Upper West, Upper East, Greater Accra, Volta and Central regions.

Launching the project, the Northern Regional Minister, Mr. Moses Bukari Mabengba, noted that the government was committed to creating an enabling environment for women to develop their potential and getting fair representation in governance.

He, however, observed that the bane to women’s participation in politics was lack of education, which he noted had created a situation where many women could not participate in decision making in some areas.

The minister, therefore, called for a more aggressive pursuit of girl-child education so as to produce qualified women to participate in decision making.

The Programme Officer of the FFP, Ms Esenam Tilly Adu-Gyamfi, told the Daily Graphic that the objective of the project was to address some challenges that confront women in the 2006 district assembly elections.

These challenges, she noted, had been identified in a review conducted by the Women’s Manifesto Coalition and these included cultural barriers, gender discrimination and resource constraints.

“The project would, therefore, assist the women aspirants to acquire passport photographs for the production of posters and handbills to sell their messages to their constituents,” Ms Adu-Gymafi said.

She appealed for support from other organisations and institutions to facilitate the implementation of the project and ultimately improve women representation in governance.

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