A Director at Open Society Foundation, Ayisha Osori has admonished West African countries to have regulations that will provide an easy avenue for more women to get involved in politics.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the Final Conference of MIASA’s Interdisciplinary Fellow Group on Increasing Women’s Political Presence in West Africa (IFG 8) on Tuesday, May 16, she stressed that if really Ghana and other West African countries want more women's participation in politics, then politics should not be monetised.
“The monetisation of our politics affects women because generally, women are at the bottom of the economic pyramid. It’s very hard for us to raise capital, and it’s very hard for us to raise the kind of finances we need to build businesses. If you do the analyses you will find out most of the rich people in Ghana are probably men.
“If you look at women who are wealthy then they probably inherited their wealth from men and usually they are not interested. So as long as politics is about money then women will remain economically disadvantaged because you need money to win in politics,” Ayisha Osori argued.
According to her, if the political space is sanitised, more women will have an interest in politics.
She explained that if the perception remains that politics is a dirty game, then women will continue to be discouraged to take part.
“You can make politics attractive to women by holding people accountable. I think the more we hold people accountable and people are punished for abusing the public trust, abusing public funds then we will find that it is a cleaner space for people to come in,” Ayisha Osori indicated.
Role of political parties
The Director of Open Society Foundation in her engagement with the media also noted that political parties have a key role to play to get more women into politics.
She believes that if political parties are open to giving women positions and providing the needed support for them to climb the ladder, the participation of women in politics and decision-making will go up significantly.
“You need both men and women in society because they have different life experiences and different needs. If you have both men and women in society then you want people in policy and government who understand and reflect both sides.
“We must start with the parties. The parties need us and so that’s a place to start,” Ayisha Osori shared.
The two-day conference on Increasing Women’s Political Presence in West Africa being held at the Auditorium of the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation Research, University of Ghana was opened by Dr. Susann Baller, MIASA Director (Germany) and Dr. Grace Diabah, MIASA Director (Ghana).
In her address, Dr. Susann Baller stressed that the issue of "Increasing Women's Political Presence" is key for MIASA in several ways.
She indicated that MIASA is devoted to promoting female scholarship on the African continent and beyond.
On her part, Dr. Grace Diabah said her outfit is delighted that conference participants came from close and far to attend the event at the University of Ghana.
“We thank the conference organising team of MIASA for their continuous assistance in realizing this programme as well as MIASA’s sponsors, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the University of Ghana for their funding. We highly appreciate the significant support of MIASA offered by the Provost of the College of Humanities,” Dr. Grace Diabah said.
Despite several campaigns in recent years to get more women into government to have a say in decision-making, not much has improved.
Data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union shows that Rwanda tops not just Africa but globally in terms of women in parliaments with 54.8% of its parliamentarians being women in 2021.
Ghana's rate is 14.5%, Burkina Faso's at 6.3%, and Liberia's at an even lower 3.3%. This paints a clear picture of the low political presence of women in the West African region.
More about the conference
The Conference on Interdisciplinary Fellow Group on Increasing Women’s Political Presence in West Africa by Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA), University of Ghana seeks to expand the notion and understanding of political presence beyond political institutions to discuss and analyse the various ways in which women demonstrate leadership in other spaces.
The conference is part of the activities of MIASA’s eighth Interdisciplinary Fellow Group (IFG 8). The group has been investigating among others, the history, and possibilities across West Africa for Women’s increased presence in politics, focusing on breakthroughs in political office, the political influence of women merchants, women building religious organizations and transatlantic alliances, as well as the life trajectories that cross these categories – moving from business and religion to political office and transnational organization.
The conference offers the opportunity to present the results of the group’s research (as well as similar topics) and discuss emerging issues.
MIASA is an Institute under the College of Humanities at the University of Ghana and is jointly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the University of Ghana.
MIASA serves as a hub for exchange, networking, and collaboration among leading researchers from Germany, Ghana, and other scholars from around the globe.
An important focus of MIASA is to encourage intellectual exchange across disciplines and between junior and senior researchers through its Interdisciplinary Fellow Groups (IFGs).