Representatives of the four main political parties have called for constitutional, legislative and policy interventions to ensure that women are given equal representation in political and other public spheres.
In that respect, they called for a constitutional provision for the state funding of political parties but with a caveat that requires beneficiaries to field 50 per cent of either sex on all election structures of the party.
They suggested that any party that failed to achieve the gender balance requirement should have its funding cut by 50 per cent, while the party that fielded more than 50 per cent females, should receive extra funding.
These were contained in a communique issued by representatives of the four political parties with parliamentary seats – National Democratic Congress (NDC), New Patriotic Party (NPP), Convention People’s Party (CPP) and People’s National Convention (PNC) — after a two-day workshop at Akosombo in the Eastern Region, which was organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), in collaboration with the European Union (EU).
It was on the theme “Towards increased women participation and representation in Parliament”, and marked the launch of an IEA/EU project that targets an increase in the representation of women in Parliament from 19 currently to at least 60 in the next Parliament in 2013.
The communique, dubbed “Akosombo Declaration”, recommended the twinning of geographically-adjacent constituencies for gender balance, such as having a female Member of Parliament (MP) for Okaikoi North and a male MP for Okaikoi South, or a male MP for Ashanti Akim North and a female MP for Ashanti Akim South.
It suggested that to avoid the violence that normally characterised bye-elections, the political party that initially occupied the seat before it became vacant should be allowed to fill the vacant seat for the remaining term but with a woman.
“In the near future when new electoral areas in the districts are created, they should be reserved for women only by the Electoral Commission (EC)”, it further recommended, adding, “Electoral areas in the districts should be apportioned 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men by the district assemblies”.
The communique also demanded 50 per cent female government appointees to the district assemblies, the reservation of 50 per cent of Presiding Members for females and the allocation of 50 per cent of all elective and appointed public positions for women.
It also urged political parties to reserve 50 per cent of their safe seats for women, adding that current women MPs should be retained, and where and when they decided not to contest again, only females should contest those seats.
The communique said for political parties to increase the eligibility pool of women capable of filling leadership positions, “we advocate that they set up mentoring programmes, as well as organise governance, leadership and capacity-building workshops and associations for the women, young women and the girl-child.
It indicated that in order to increase the visibility of successful women in public office, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and other development actors should provide increased media platforms and coverage for women from the grassroots to the national level.
The communique said for sanity to prevail in politics and to encourage greater participation of women, “we deplore the use of sexist and abusive language against women seeking public office or in public office, and call for the strict enforcement of the laws on defamation”.
The authors of the Akosombo Declaration intend to form a strong lobbying advocacy group to push forward the recommendations to the Constitutional Review Commission.