The Member of Parliament for Asante Akyem South, Mrs Gifty Ohene-Konadu,has called for conscious efforts to introduce gender perspective in local governance.
She said traditional political tools such as coalition building, lobbying, policy analysis and formation of women caucuses could help promote efforts to ensure that more women win seats in the various district assemblies during the forthcoming district assembly elections.
Mrs Ohene-Konadu, who is also the Deputy Minister for Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiative (PSI), made the call in Parliament when she was making a statement on women's participation in the country's decentralised local government system.
She stated that it would be easier for women to participate in local governance “because the level of power of government is closer to them in terms of geographical location and relevance”.
She said positions in local government would enable women to hold office without necessarily moving away from their families, given that most cultures frown upon women living away from their families and also the fact that it was difficult for them to get their husbands to follow them because of their careers.
Mrs Ohene-Konadu asserted that the decentralisation of power to local governments had not helped since the number of women assembly members had not increased.
She noted that that could be attributed to a complex of factors, which range from financial constraints to institutional culture, low knowledge on local government, decentralisation and gender issues in addition to the traditionally acknowledged self-denial, lack of confidence and low literacy among other factors.
The MP said that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, which considered the empowerment of women and their participation in local governance as a prime and integral part of the country's development had instituted measures to facilitate women's participation in local governance.
She explained that the Local Government Act, which provided for the reservation of 30 per cent membership of the council for women had been strictly adhered to, adding that the figure of women appointees since the government assumed office testified to that.
Mrs Ohene-Konadu, however, stated that since the constraints facing women's participation in local government were complex and multi-dimensional, there was the need to adopt a holistic approach with different actors from government, non-governmental organisations, civil society and the donor community working together to provide effective and responsive programmes to address their needs.
She, therefore applauded the setting up of a fund to support the activities of women aspiring to enter local governance by the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs and called for a powerful platform for the concerns of women to be expressed.