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29.04.2004 Regional News

Women identify potential ingredients for fuelling political tension

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Accra, April 29, GNA - Mrs Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Acting Director of Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), on Thursday said intemperate language; unfair criticism; perception of low levels of achievement and lack of accountability were potential ingredients for fuelling political tension.

Lack of patience in assessing issues, low capacity for their analysis, insufficient disclosure of information, abusive language and casting of aspersions also offered fertile grounds for conflict to thrive, she emphasised.

Mrs Ofei-Aboagye said these at a Women's Forum organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) as part of the Fourth Annual Constitution Week celebration.

The Women's Forum under the theme: "The Role of Women in Ensuring A Violence Free Environment in an Election Year," was attended by gender activists, women representatives from political parties, market women, ladies from the security services and a cross-section of the public. The ILGS Director urged women not to relent on their efforts to influence society positively for violence-free elections adding, "we dare not relent because the alternative to a violence-free environment is all around us for us to see.."

She said ensuring freedom from violence should not only be restricted to the election year. It should be part of the national effort, continuing on a long-term basis in order to contribute to a peaceful, and tolerant environment.

Mrs Ofei-Aboagye said women must have the wherewithal to do that - the information, the influence and other resources including finances. She urge women especially those in high positions to insist that true facts be presented at all times, preach peace and insist on decorum at platforms that they shared and meetings they attended and in public spaces over which they had control.

Make a choice not to participate in disrespectful, abusive and intolerant gathering, refraining from abusive or inflammatory language, avoid mudslinging and raking up gossip about opponents and their past. She encouraged women to indulge in constructive debate stressing, "despite the popular perception that politics is not for nice guys, integrity and decency in politicians always stand out.

"It is worthwhile for women politicians to cultivate that image, especially as women in high positions by their very visibility are role models, in a country where these are sorely needed."

On how female politicians should deal with unfair criticism, Mrs Ofie-Aboagye said "my answer would be, by constructively addressing the issues that matter in a straight-forward manner.

"It is also critical for women in public office to manage themselves by not giving their opponents the ammunition to use against them."

Hajia Katumi Mahama, President of Federation of Moslem Women in Ghana, who chaired the forum urged women to unite and defend their dignity through positive affirmative action that would influence society.

She also advised against developing antagonistic attitude towards men, "we are partners in developments, our roles if utilised effectively complement each other for harmony in the home, community and country". Some of the participants appealed to media practitioners, social and political commentators and the politicians to be civil in their criticisms of opposing views.

The week - April 28 to May 4 - is under the theme: "National Integration Through Tolerance," and it is aimed at creating an increased and sustained interest and participation of all Ghanaians in the new democratic dispensation for the achievement of good governance, social and political stability for national unity and development.

It would also be used to examine individually and collectively, how Ghanaians had lived by the tenets and prescriptions of the Constitution during the past 12 years of constitutional rule.