Last Sunday witnessed a significant event which can be described as another major step forward to give women higher political representation and a place in the decision-making process in the country.
At a workshop in Akosombo, political parties with representation in Parliament called for the establishment of a voluntary quota of 30 per cent positions for women in the administration of political parties, the selection of parliamentary candidates and the appointment of district chief executives.
The call for the implementation is part of the affirmative action to address the imbalances in representation at the different levels of the political spectrum.
We see the call as being in response to the insufficient attention given to critical issues affecting women, resulting from their under representation in politics, policy and decision-making levels and in public life generally.
Women are facing this problem partly because of our belief systems which have relegated them to the background over the years. For instance, it is generally accepted that the place of a woman is the kitchen, not Parliament or the political platform.
They are to be seen but not heard, even when decisions affecting them and children are being taken at home. They have even been discriminated against in their quest to fulfil their biological roles as mothers.
So strong are these beliefs that most women have sadly accepted the situation as their fate and are not striving to occupy political positions or even offer themselves for elections or selection.
Most men have not helped matters. They have not supported their female counterparts to participate in politics. They will sometimes go as far as name calling to discourage women or physically abuse them to make the terrain very rough to frighten them. Instead of looking at women’s capabilities and ideas on the campaign trail, men would rather concentrate on how long a woman’s eye pencil has been drawn and the size of the sleeves of her Kaba.
Most women have also found it convenient to shy away from politics because it is time-consuming and they often think their absence will create chaos in the house with respect to the happiness of their husbands and children.
This situation has resulted in the low representation of women in politics. For instance, according to the Women’s Manifesto, in the 1998 district assembly elections, out of a total of 4,820 elected candidates, 196 were women, while 4,624 were men.
The situation in Parliament has not been different. In the Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic, there are 229 members. Out of this, only 20, which is just about eight per cent, are women.
In the Fourth Parliament of the Fourth Republic (2005-2009), there were 230 members of Parliament, out of which 25 were women.
The Daily Graphic, therefore, welcomes the call for more representation of women in public life as necessary because given the challenges that women are confronted with, it is important to put in place systems that will progressively draw attention to their needs and concerns and enable them to participate actively in politics.
Several efforts have been made by some organisations and institutions at getting women to participate in politics. Notable among them is Abantu for Development, which has even drawn up a document known as the Women’s Manifesto.
This manifesto brings together various demands made by Ghanaian women over the years, including the demand for fair political representation.
The Daily Graphic thinks it is about time we took the necessary actions that will see to it that our women are no longer marginalised but offered fair representation at the political level for the benefit of national development.