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29.09.2005 Politics

English language is not barrier for political office

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Akosombo, Sept.29, GNA - Mrs Roseline Obeng-Ofori, Programmes Coordinator of Action Aid, has denied the assertion that English language was a barrier for any person to be elected or appointed an assembly member.

She said the Local Government Act, required any person to be elected or appointed to an assembly to be ordinarily resident in the area.

"This is to ensure that the person could speak the dialect of the people to be represented and not whether could speak English which is alien to most communities in the country," she added.

Mrs Obeng-Ofori was speaking on the theme "Women's representation in Local Governance, the way forward", at a Sensitisation Forum for Women at Akosombo in the Eastern Region on Thursday.

She stressed that women with the ability to contest for elections to the assemblies could not be barred simply because they could not speak English.

The Forum organized by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in collaboration with Abantu for Development, a gender Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), was to sensitize women in the Asuogyaman District to increase their participation in next year's district assembly elections.

Mrs Obeng-Ofori said if the medium of communication during deliberations at a District Assembly was English, it was the Assembly's responsibility to employ interpreters for those who could not read or speak the English language.

She therefore, challenged women with the ability to contest for assembly elections to take up the challenge irrespective of their educational background. Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Director of Abantu, said women's representation at the District Assemblies was far below the Local Government Act and stressed the need for women to ignore all perceptions and volunteer to contest for the next assemblies elections. She noted that women's representation in the assemblies nation-wide was only three per cent as a against the 30 per cent set aside by the Act for women and appealed to women to "brave all odds" and contest for the 2006 elections.

Dr Mensah-Kutin advised women who contest for the Assembly elections to focus on issues rather than making promises and giving out monies to the electorates during campaigns. She reminded them that the assembly's activities were voluntary and funds were not available to fulfil promises made during campaign, adding;" the electoral laws frowned on giving money to influence the electorate for their vote." Mr Lord Larbi, Deputy Eastern Regional Director of the NCCE, said issues affecting women were among key constitutional provisions lagging behind in their promotion for political positions and stressed the need for women to improve on their performance to compete with men in politics.

Most of the participants called for more financial and educational support to encourage more women to contest in the next assembly elections. 29 Sept.05