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17.07.2004 General News

Nominate more women for Parliament

By GNA

Accra, July 17, GNA- Ms Gloria Ofori-Boadu, President of Women's Assistance and Business Association (WABA), an NGO on Saturday said none of the political parties contesting the December elections has a specific and detailed programme for the advancement of gender equality and women's interest in the selection of parliamentary candidates.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Ms Ofori-Boadu said that even though gender advocates criticise the low percentage of women representation in Parliament, which now stands at 19 out of 200, they fail to direct their concerns to various primaries, which is the selective process of political parties. She described this as "unfair to women who constitute 52 percent of the country's population".

Ms Ofori-Boadu, former Executive Director of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), said: "I do not want to sound gender biased, but the study of the political parties' mode of conducting their primaries revealed even consistent attempt to frustrate, impede and discriminate against women by some political party executives.

"The parties need to demonstrate their commitment for the advancement of women's and other vulnerable groups interest by assisting them to contest for possibly safe seats," she said.

She said, "Why do we have to standby unconcerned for women to loose the primaries only for Gender Advocates to start all over again to conduct training seminars and workshops for more women to enter into politics."

She called on the political parties to evolve specific and detailed agenda for the advancement of gender equality and make them practical with the view to increasing the number of women at the various levels of decision-making.

"We want to see the political parties endorse women as presidential candidates and running mates and more women as parliamentary candidates," she said.

Ms Ofori-Boadu said going by the 2000 election statistics, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) endorsed 23 women and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), 16, whilst the other parties endorsed equally low numbers.

"This clearly shows a deliberate to marginalize women."

Ms. Ofori-Boadu spoke against speculation that women MPs did not contribute regularly in Parliament.

She said The "Hansard" the mouthpiece of Parliament indicates that women contribute immensely on the floor of the House.

"We do not care how the voting pattern will go this year, we only want to see a pattern that reflects more women in decision making and a government which is committed to the advancement of gender equality," she said.

She said: "the only way to effectively integrate women into the mainstream of society is for them to be given some form of preferential treatment in offering opportunities."

She said affirmative action is not about giving women quotas in leadership positions as is being purported in some circles, but to ensure that the abilities of women were also tapped and utilised for the development of the country.

Mrs. Ofori-Boadu said affirmative action would strengthen multi-party democracy and accelerate national development. She urged women groups and gender advocates, to show interest for women in politics.

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