12.10.2004 Politics

Help empower women politically-Advocate urges

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Accra, Oct. 12, GNA - The National Programme Manager, UN System Gender Programme, Mrs Joana Opare on Tuesday said women should be sensitised and educated to become strong and matured political leaders. Mrs Opare said this in an address read on her behalf at a two-day workshop organised by the Electoral Commission Ladies Club (ECLAC) in collaboration with the UN System Gender Programme for its members, who are expected to ensure improvement in women's participation in Election 2004.

Mrs Opare said the extent of women's participation in governance presented a disconcerting picture in Ghana, even though, she had ratified various international conventions on the need for redressing the ill effects of inequality and inequity.

She said men should be engaged to really understand and support women to move from merely being in the eligible pool of candidates to actually becoming Members of Parliament to boost their numbers in the decision-making process.

The workshop, being attended by 50 participants from all over the country is on the theme: "Towards Improved Participation of Women in the December 2004 General Election."

Mrs Nana Oye Lithur, a Gender Advocate and a Coordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, described the low participation of women in the electoral process as very unfortunate, saying that could be attributed to a number of factors which included, the political climate, gender ideology and negative social attitudes towards women leaders. She said though females in Ghana constituted 51 per cent of the electorate, there were more male voters than women, adding that, their participation in the public elections from 1996 to 2002 was still not commensurate with the demographic numbers women in Ghana represented. Mrs Lithur indicated that the fewer number of female voters had also resulted in the low representation of women by gender in public office - Ministers of States, Regional Ministers and Regional Coordinating Council Coordinators.

She announced that the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions had since 1992 had the lowest women representations in Parliament and that most of them came from the Greater Accra, Eastern and Ashanti Regions.

She, therefore, urged the EC ladies to intensify education for women on the electoral process for them to know the laws and procedures relating to elections and to be bold enough to vie for political positions.

She urged the Club to also lobby EC to adopt affirmative actions to identify special needs of women in the light of difficulties they faced in participating in the electoral process.

Topics to be discussed at the workshop include: "The Ethics of Election"; "Challenges Confronting Female Politicians"; "How to Educate Women as Electorate"; "Women as Election Administrators" and "Communications".

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the Chairman of EC, who chaired the function, lauded the UN Gender Programme for funding the workshop and urged competent women to be bold to take leadership positions that would help move the developmental process forward.

A four-paged booklet on the "Ethical Guidelines for Election Administration" was launched at the opening. It has the dos and don'ts of election administrations.

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