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12.05.2009 Politics

Mills explains why he "failed" Ghana's women

By myjoyonline
President Mills reacts to comments that he's failed women.President Mills reacts to comments that he's failed women.

President Mills has responded to criticisms that he has reneged on his promise that 40 percent of his appointments will go to women.

The Tuesday, May 12, 2009 edition of The Statesman newspaper reported that only 11% of the president's appointments went to females.

But speaking to the media earlier at a press conference during his recent visit to the United Kingdom, Prof Mills said although the issue of women participation has been high on his agenda, the government has faced practical difficulties.

“We said this in earnest and we still mean it but there were practical problems. It's been very difficult for us, to get people come into politics,” Prof Mills stressed.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on several campaign platforms ahead of the 2008 elections touted its commitment to make women a focal point in the country's development effort.

The party reinforced its pledge in its manifesto and said 40 percent of all government appointments under a Mills-led administration would go to women.

Although most of the government's appointments have been made, the statistics seem to be pointing differently.

The facts as presented by The Statesman newspaper suggests out of the 38 ministers appointed by President Mills, only eight are female.

There are seven female deputy ministers out of 35; 12 female MMDCEs out of 164; three female members of the Council of State out of a total of 24.

Of the 24 appointments to the Armed Forces Council, only one is a woman while in the newly constituted Economic Advisory Council, which the president's brother Dr Cadman Atta Mills chairs, no member is a woman.

The trend has already torched off a strong reaction from the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA).

In a letter titled “Mr President, Where Are the Women?” addressed to the president and copied to the media, the women lawyers said the Mills administration had gone against its words to women in the country.

Vice President of FIDA International and President of FIDA Ghana, Ursula Owusu, hinted that the association suspects the government is hatching a plan to hack off a few of the women officials appointed by the previous administration, including the Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood.

The rest, according to the FIDA Ghana boss are the acting director of the Ghana Immigration Service and the Managing Director of the Tema Development Corporation.

President Mills reacting to the issues said although women “are a good source of very rich human resources,” they have shown little interest in entering politics.

“I wish you encourage your friends and relations who are women to pluck courage and come into politics. The terrain may be slippery. There may be turbulence but at the end of the day, you'll be able to derive satisfaction from serving your nation,” the president urged.

Meanwhile gender activist Rose Mensah has rejected the president's comments that women have been unwilling to take up political appointments.

She however blames society for the current state of affairs in which women constitute the minority in most formal institutions, stressing “we live in a system where there is a structured inequality.”

Story by Fiifi Koomson/Myjoyonline