Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and ABANTU for Development, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) representing women's rights have expressed disappointment at the low participation of women in next month's elections.
Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin, regional director, ABANTU for Development, at a media encounter on Thursday on the chances of women in elections 2008, said the 101 women who were standing for elections this year was an increase of only one from the 2004 elections, adding this was not encouraging despite all efforts made by ABANTU and other organizations to ensure an appreciable increase.
Dr. Mensah-Kutin blamed the low level of women's participation on the failure of political parties to put in place necessary structures that would field women to be able to play meaningful roles in their respective constituencies and therefore make their chances of being elected certain.
She said four years into the production of the Women's Manifesto for Ghana, it was expected that most of the demands made in the document would be met by both government and the political parties, to help nurture women who wanted to contest in the elections to favourably do so.
Dr. Mensah-Kutin called on political parties to immediately address issues including the mobilisation of resources, grooming women aspirants in terms of packaging of their messages and building their images through presentations at smaller forums.
Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, Director, School of Communicationsm University of Ghana, Legon, called for the institution of a strong affirmative action that would press the demand for a quota system for women representation in decision making.
She said it was only through affirmative action that women could get meaningful representation in both parliament and at the local levels so that they could also lobby for programmes that directly affected their well-being.
Dr Gadzekpo referred to the numerous promises of the various presidential aspirants of ensuring a sizable representation of women in both ministerial positions and in their cabinets as vain, if they would not even support them at the local levels.
She called on all Ghanaians to change their perceptions about women in leadership positions and rather encourage them to aspire to higher positions, as women were good agents to ensure meaningful socio-economic, cultural and political change.
Dr Gadzekpo urged political parties not to wait until election before they start working on women advancement, but ensure that post-election programmes were consistently held to prepare their people for the next elections.
Mr. Kojo Asante from the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) stressed the importance of mobilizing and securing funding to support women in politics, saying they faced numerous financial challenges that often discouraged many of them to lose interest in the race.
“Since money is the basis for effective campaigning during the political seasons, political parties must ensure that they support their women to make them more mobile and further help them in their organizational programmes,” he said.
He also urged political parties to also project women in their strongholds, instead of pushing the women into the losing areas, where they would eventually lose due to lack of voter commitment towards women's participation in politics.
Mr Asante expressed worry that the probability that the women parliamentary candidates would win their seats was uncertain.
He called for a more comprehensive approach on the part of political parties to ensure sustained post-election programmes.