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17.10.2007 General News

More women face political extinction due to culture of ‘monetocracy’, laments gender activist.

By daily Express- Nii Kwaku Osabutey ANNY

Senior Programme Officer of ABANTU for development Hamida Harrison has observed that more and more Ghanaian women continue to face exclusion from taking political office because of the growing incidence of money influence normally used to entice potential voters by their male counterparts.

She told the dailyEXPRESS at her North Kaneshie office that the practice is gradually making politics an expensive venture especially for women, who incidentally don't have the needed resources to actively engage in political campaigns and win power.

According to her, a greater number of women are found in the informal sector where it is difficult to even raise enough capital to expand their business let alone have enough resources to campaign for political position.

“They don't have properties; even have money to take a loan, to run a business, buy house and others. It's pretty an expensive venture for us, she lamented to the dailyEXPRESS.

Madam Harrison who is a gender activist said the situation has not been made any better because of prevailing cultural practices in certain communities where it's a taboo for women to take part in politics.

“In last elections there were women who battered by their husbands when they got up and said I want to stand for elections. They were mercilessly beaten because that is not your job,” she told the paper.

She said this has become a perception engrained in the minds of people who believe women have no business taking part in politics, because it's a preserve for men.

“So women who want to jump the ladder are labeled as witches, prostitutes and all that,” Hamida Harrison added.

She also mentioned the role of spouses as being another hindrance to the progress of women in the political system. According to her most spouses would rather see their women folks locked up behind the doors of kitchen or socially constructed roles instead of voicing their concerns when it comes to national affairs.

Though the low capacity building of women could be a factor, Hamida Harrison told the dailyEXPRESS that should not necessarily be a yardstick to discourage women from actively engaging in politics because their contributions to the country's development can't just be swept under the carpet.

She wondered how “we could claim to be practicing democracy when the ground is not level for us all to compete.”

Hamida Harrison also expressed her frustration with government's inability to implement several protocols that it has ratified abroad.

“So if you go and sign those protocols internationally and come back and fail to implement them then, what are you telling us- for the cameras?” she asked rhetorically.

Madam Harrison said affirmative action is what is needed by all the parties to make a strong commitment to promote the advancement of women's interest.

Women involvement in active politics has become a very contentious issue especially in most African countries where majority of them continuo to face exclusion.

Apart from cultural practices that are deeply entrenched in most societies, most Islamic societies do not allow their women to take part in politics because their participation is seen as an affront to their faith.

Despite the setbacks some countries especially in Eastern Africa have made strenuous effort to allocate a certain portion of sets for women in parliament.

For example, Uganda and Botswana are said to be countries that have made some effort to ensure that women are allotted certain percentage in parliament for them.