Dr Angela Lusig
Dr Angela Lusig

Remove barriers against women participation in politics-UNDP

Ghanaians must stand with women who choose to lead in politics by eliminating all bias and barriers that kill their ambition as the district assembly election approaches in order for the society to thrive.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative, Dr Angela Lusigi who said this at a policy dialogue on “Women’s Leadership in Local Governance: Driving Grassroots Development” in Accra said women participation in political leadership and decision making was low in the country and therefore, a need for a conscious effort to improve on the phenomenon.

The change, she said, must start at the top with clear policies and creating space at the decision table for women “but this cannot succeed without a strong pipeline and support system for emerging women leaders”.

Women participation

The discussion at the policy dialogue organised by the UNDP attracted experts in local governance, representatives of NGOs, Electoral Commission, researchers, media among others and focused on how to unlock the potential of women leaders and promote their active participation in politics and decision making.

Although Africa, she said, was not performing poorly in terms of women representation at higher levels in the private corporate space, women and girls in Africa had many barriers to succeed in politics and public decision making.

Dr Lusigi indicated that in the country “Only 14.5 per cent of women Parliament, less than 5 percent of elected assembly members are women, some districts have none, only 15 per cent of the 261 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), regions such as Ahafo and Western North regions have none”.

“At the current rate of progress, it will take Africa 140 years to reach gender parity in work and society”, she indicated.

New data from UNDP shows that globally, 49 per cent of women and men feel that men make better political leaders than women do and 43 per cent feel that men make better business executives than women do.

However, real evidence showed that women were often better leaders who showed more empathy and were better able to tap into a wide variety of skills that men did not always possess, she said.

She expressed the hope that with such policy dialogues the conversation would continue to get the necessary attention it deserved.

“UNDP is committed to expanding opportunities and networks so that women and young people reach their full potential as leaders – empowered women and youth with equal access to leadership and decision making will close the gender gap and get us all closer to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. 

Voter turn-out

A gender and local governance expert, Dr Esther Ofei Aboagye, said political parties must “walk the talk” of allowing more women participation in their internal politics to build the capacity of women to take up key positions in the party aside the positions of women organisers.

Touching on the district assembly elections, Dr Ofei Aboagye said women must be more interested in the district assembly elections because decisions at the local levels affected them directly.

Leaving the men to contest as assembly members defeat the course of having the issues of women addressed effectively.

Aside contesting the elections, she urged women to turn out in their numbers to vote in the district assembly elections to elect leaders who would address their challenges in their communities.

The 33.6 per cent voter turn-out in the 2019 district assembly elections, she said was not encouraging and therefore must improve in the up-coming elections on December 19.

Dr Ofei Aboagye said “the district assembly’s decisions are what affect the lives of the people.

Whether your garbage would be collected, whether your drains would be distilled, or whether your markets would be clean, whether your school would be functioning for your children are all district assembly issues”.

The executive director of Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, Otiko Afisa Djaba, called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to leave a legacy of having passed the Affirmative Action bill before leaving office next year.

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