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30.06.2004 Regional News

Procedures and functions of governance favour men- Mrs Opare

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Tamale, June 30, GNA- Mrs Joana Opare National Programme Manager of the United Nations System Gender Programme has observed that governance is presumed to be gender-neutral but procedures, structures and functions of governance have remained in favour of men.

Mrs Opare was speaking at a two-day workshop on: "Gender in Local Governance", and organized in Tamale on Tuesday for government organizations, NGOs, research and advocacy institutions from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions in the promotion of gender-sensitivity in local governance.

The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development organized the forum to provide an opportunity for the participants to share information on gender initiatives in local governance, identify areas of collaboration and contribute to a research and training agenda. Mrs Opare said redressing these inequalities required a gender analysis of the processes and structures of governance and factors of productivity at the local and national levels.

She pointed out that women had remained under-represented in national and local assemblies, accounting for an average of less than 15 per cent of seats in Parliaments.

The Promgramme Manager admitted however that at the district level, women's representation after the 2002 local elections had improved to about 34 per cent.

Mrs Opare noted that even though the decentralization policy at the local level has helped redress gender inequalities, it had not automatically allowed or encouraged marginalized groups to adequately participate in decision-making.

"The legitimacy of existing governance structures and processes must be questioned when the interests and voices of more than half the population are not reflected in decisions that are made", she added.

She said that this was why there is an increasing concern worldwide to foster gender-sensitivity in all areas of development, especially governance, to enhance women's participation in elections. She said women at the grassroots level must be encouraged to participate in leadership training that focuses on political changes.