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29.11.2010 Politics

Betty Returns Fire

By Daily Guide
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An assemblage of women from the various political parties offered Betty Mould-Iddrisu a rare opportunity to express disgust at what political cynics call media terrorism, especially against female politicians, describing the trend as an attack on womanhood.

Without mentioning names, she questioned why people would attack the political ambition of a woman, as the body language of her mainly female audience drawn from all the parties suggested acquiescence, especially since they too have suffered the attacks in one way or the other from so-called pro-National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party media.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice made the statements when she delivered the keynote address at an Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and European Union (EU) jointly-organized workshop towards addressing the challenge of under-representation of women in Parliament.

The Akosombo workshop, themed 'Towards Increased Women's Participation And Representation In Parliament', had an array of female politicians including two ministers, Betty and her Women and Children's Affairs counterpart, Juliana Azumah-Mensah.

It was obvious Betty, as she is fondly called, was venting bottled-up angst against how the media had treated stories regarding her, citing an instance of waking up in the morning to be greeted with a headline 'Betty Stripped Naked' and one's name on the airwaves negatively, with the children nearby.

Women are beset with a myriad of challenges- one of them being their vulnerability- a bottleneck which according to her is inimical to the advancement of women in society.

It is discouraging, she mentioned, when the media refer to women in sexist fashion on the pages of newspapers and on the airwaves.

She cautioned the media to desist from such derogatory references which, according to her, tie in with the perceptions of some political leaders.

The media, she stated, should pull the brakes on the use of vile language in their reportage on women, adding, 'If such criticisms debase the essence of womanhood, how do we get the next generation of women to be interested in politics?'

'This is one of my personal sad experiences in politics,' she told her colleagues, as she charged them to stand for each other under the circumstances.

Such attacks, she stated, had not dampened the spirit of her husband who she explained was an old political horse who understood local politics. In some homes, this could be damaging to relationships, she implied.

'They attack us because we are vulnerable. Why should they question the political ambitions of a woman by asking 'how dare her?'

She charged, 'We must find a way of containing this impunity. What is wrong with a woman aspiring to be at the top? Women should not be satisfied with halfway measures? Why should women be the subject of abuse? Why should they abuse Otiko?'

Turning to the subject of her address, the minister stated that women missed the boat in 1995 (The Beijing Conference) to catch up with men, adding, 'We need to examine the issues surrounding women's participation in Parliament and obtain a consensus on accelerating increased female representation.'

Culture and traditions, she observed, militate against the advancement and participation of women in any political process, alongside the multiple burdens in the home and community. These, she noted, left the women with little or no time for politics.

The factors which militate against the entry of women into parliament, she said, include the unfavourable winner-takes-all electoral system, as practised in Ghana, lack of party support and the difficulty by women to accessing funds for political activities.

It is the right of women to seek reasonable participation in parliamentary work, she stated, adding that 'Equal participation of women in parliament and government is essential to building and sustaining democracy.'

She suggested the quota system to address the under-representation, citing the example of Rwanda where the system had seen an increase in females in the local parliament.

Ghana, she said, stood to gain enormously with an increase in female numbers in parliament and for this to happen, there was the need to address the challenges standing in its way.

The workshop flagged off a series of interventions towards addressing the challenge of under-representation of women in Parliament by the IEA and EU.

The EU official in charge of governance, Daria Fane, participated in the first day of the programme.

By A.R. Gomda

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