Women,Stand Up And Be Counted - Leading Women Politicians Urge
The , has called on women in the country to stand up against the abuse of womanhood in the media just because women wanted to indulge in politics.
While calling on the media to desist from vile portrayal of women, she said it was time for women, irrespective of their political affiliation, to marshal a collective response against the debasing of womanhood in the media.
She was speaking at a two-day workshop organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) at the weekend at Akosombo in the Eastern Region.
The workshop marked the launch of a project dubbed, “Towards increasing women participation and representation in Parliament,” under the joint auspices of the IEA and the European Union (EU).
“We must find a way of disabling that kind of media impunity,” she told the women political leaders attending the workshop.
Mrs Mould-Iddrisu said it was most disheartening for a woman politician to wake up in the morning only to be greeted with despicable language in the media, citing herself as a constant victim of such media impunity.
She wondered why Samia Nkrumah, for instance, should be subjected to abuse in the media simply because she expressed interest to contest the chairmanship of the Conventional People’s Party (CPP).
Mrs Mould-Iddrisu said given the hostile environment women found themselves in it was difficult for them to contest for political positions, and added that “it takes guts, faith and courage in oneself to believe you can perform when you get up there”.
She said women faced many disadvantages such as lack of financial support in their quest to contest for political positions and stressed the need for them to develop positive strategies to increase their numbers in Parliament after Election 2012.
Responding to a question on the government’s inability to appoint 40 per cent of women into public officers, the Attorney-General said considering the realities on the ground, that pledge was “a practical impossibility and highly idealistic”.
She explained that although the President had good intention to redeem that pledge, some women declined their appointments, perhaps due to the realities of politics they wanted to avoid.
Furthermore, she said the constitutional provision that enjoined the President to appoint 30 per cent of Cabinet ministers from Parliament, was also not helpful, given the fact that there were only the National Democratic Congress (NDC) female Members of Parliament (MPs).
Lending weight to the Attorney-General’s submissions, a leading member of the NDC, Mr Kwamena Ahwoi, said it was technically difficult to achieve the 40 per cent appointment of women, especially at the grass roots level, because many people at the grass roots did not have such orientation.
A principal lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Mr Ahwoi, gave an overview of the proportional representation system applied in various countries across the world, but noted that the system did not guarantee increased women representation in Parliament.
He said the proportional representation system only removed the choice of whether or not to vote for a woman from the general electorate to the political party but he noted that it required a women-sensitive political party to put up more women for election with the knowledge that they stood a better chance of winning.“My own experience tells me that it will be very difficult and I will put my faith in the proportional representation system as a conduit for affirmative action, even though it offers a better opportunity for women than the plurality system,” he remarked.
A former Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive, Madam Patricia Appiagyei, observed that men always pay lip service to the issue of increasing women representation in Parliament, and urged them to back their words with action.
She said women should not think that by talking and gesturing, the men would relinquish their dominance in the political arena.
Madam Appiagyei urged women not to throw their hands in despair but to consider it as a tough struggle to overcome male chauvinism.
Madam Appiagyei, therefore, stressed the need for women to come together and take concrete action to make progress.
She also condemned the use of abusive language against women in politics and said that discouraged a lot of women from participating fully in the governance of the nation.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Mrs Frema Osei-Opare, expressed the fear that unless pragmatic measures were taken, the current number of women MPs would even dwindle.
Speaking on the topic, “Towards increasing women participation and representation in Parliament: Real Strategies and Measures”, she said there was the need to make the issue a national agenda and work consciously at achieving a gender balance in Parliament.
Mrs Osei-Opare suggested that apart from the concept of safe seats for women, political parties who had female MPs currently should retain all of them as candidates for Election 2012 or open the primary for those seats to only female contestants, in order to increase the chances of more women into Parliament.
She also advocated the establishment of a political fund for women to support women in politics, but stressed that there was the need for women to make individual commitment in terms of raising funds, being active and enhancing their capacity in order to brighten their chances of winning political contest.
A senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology at the University of Ghana, Dr Akosua Darkwa, said it would not be easy for women politician to change the status quo, but she encouraged them to forge ahead.
Making an assessment of the socio-economic and cultural challenges facing women in politics, she stressed the need for the education of more girls at the senior high school and tertiary level in order to boost the confidence of more women so as to contest for political positions.
She advised women to desist from undermining each other, and said, “we cannot push for equality when we ourselves are divided”.
An official of the EU Delegation in Ghana, Daria Fane, observed that the low representation of women in Parliament was not a phenomenon in Ghana alone, but a global concern.
She expressed the hope that the workshop would help improve the representation of women in Parliament.
The Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah, who chaired the workshop, commended the IEA for the initiative to increase women participation and representation in Parliament.