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Of a disappointment from TV3, and women in politics

BY: Ajoa Yeboa-Afari

I found extremely intriguing the recent full page advertisement by TV3, about a new programme, ‘today’s WOMAN’ (sic), ahead of its launch on June 14. From the title, I guessed that it was to be devoted mainly to issues that affect women in the present era.

Nothing wrong with such an objective, I thought. I just wish that the station had not chosen a photo of a woman in an outfit with a low neckline, showing the top of her breasts, as the apparent selling point of the new programme!  

Is that what today’s woman stands for?

The advert was in last week’s issue of this paper, and, as with earlier ones I had seen, it set me wondering about the photo used to publicize the new show, its appropriateness.

What impression did TV3 seek to convey with that kind of promotional presentation? That décolletage, or display of breasts or cleavage, is required to attract viewers to such a programme?

My expectation had been that the programme would be concerned with what the modern woman is contributing to her society, the quest to discard the image of women as sex objects, thus any publicity material would try to reflect that.  

Disappointing, to say the least! And how ironical that the programme’s focus is ‘Today’s Woman’!
I’m definitely not a fan of the rubric ‘Women’s Page’ and the like in newspapers. However, the heading, ‘Today’s Woman’, appeared to promise discussions about gender roles, policies affecting women, the role of women in the present world, and, especially, women empowerment.

Furthermore, the impression is that TV3 always strives to be a pacesetter. So why this unfortunate advert?

Or did TV3’s audience research determine that it’s the photo of a woman’s plunging neckline that would persuade viewers to tune in?

If yes, God help Ghana! God help all the efforts to claim women’s rightful place in decision-making and gender sensitivity in national policies, not to mention the campaign to get women to be part of the decision-making at home, in the work place and running for political office.

I’m even surprised that gender equality and sensitivity advocates have not spoken out about the ill-advised advert.  

Anyway, contrast the TV3 approach to generating ‘votes’ for its new show with the happenings on the political front. Women aspirants to political office have clearly worked very hard to win votes during their party primaries.

Yes, I view the TV3 advert, too, as a votes-catching strategy. Viewers vote with the remote control of their TV, whether to watch a particular show or not.  In that context, clearly the aim of the TV3 publicity was to get the viewers’ votes, to attract them to watch their new show.

And even in that difficult political terrain, doubtless aspirants, notably women, have always appreciated the importance of presenting the right image to the public. For example, how would the public, potential voters and delegates, have reacted if the campaign posters of the women contestants had shown cleavage, their breasts?

For the record, last year, August 24, when the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress held their parliamentary primaries, 37 women reportedly emerged winners. A week ago, on June 20, in the primaries of the ruling New Patriotic Party 24 women candidates won.

At present, out of the 275- member Parliament, the NPP has 169 seats; the NDC, 106. Women MPs number 38: NPP – 25 and NDC – 13.  

Congratulations to all the women candidates for Election 2020! How wonderful it would be for Ghana’s women empowerment agenda if the majority of these admirable women should enter Parliament next year!

But sadly, ‘monetization’ has evidently increasingly captured politics in this part of the world and despite much discussion about it over the years, nothing seems to be done to stop it. Indeed, during the NPP primaries, developments reported from some places indicate that the problem is growing worse. Inducements reportedly included bicycles and handsome cash amounts.

And naturally, the phenomenon presents a huge obstacle for women aspirants in particular. Funding has always been one of the major challenges cited by women candidates. They are usually at a disadvantage because of their inability, or refusal, to engage in the ‘manoeuvres’ some of the men resort to in order to fund their campaign.

The ‘monetization capture’ of the political arena, obviously means that it is mostly candidates with seemingly bottomless funds to offer substantial inducements to gain votes who have the advantage.
This of course keeps out many potential ideal candidates from standing for political office, and it’s certainly the nation’s loss.

Another, highly disturbing occurrence reported from the NPP primaries was the blatant disregard at some of the centres for the COVID-19 safety measures. On TV, there were shots depicting contestants and delegates with no care for social distancing; and congratulatory hugs.

Nevertheless, another way of looking at it is that this should give the Electoral Commission more ideas as to how it can tighten its planned safety measures implementation during the Voter Registration exercise which begins next Tuesday, June 30.  

Anyhow, good luck to all the women would-be legislators, aiming to contribute to the empowerment agenda of Ghanaian women.

May you all win your seats and enhance, and sustain, the women empowerment offensive!

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