• William Nyarko (middle), Executive Director, Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability, and  Esther Tawiah (3rd from right), Executive Director, Gender Centre for Empowering Development, with Sabia Kpekata (2nd from left), Principal Programme Officer, Department of Gender, and other participants. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI
• William Nyarko (middle), Executive Director, Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability, and Esther Tawiah (3rd from right), Executive Director, Gender Centre for Empowering Development, with Sabia Kpekata (2nd from left), Principal Programme Officer, Department of Gender, and other participants. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI

Stakeholders deliberate on inclusive governance

STAKEHOLDERS at a West Africa Young Women in Politics (WAYWIP) forum are deliberating on the need to work towards a more inclusive, equitable and democratic society in their respective countries.

The two-day event created a platform for the stakeholders to discuss the role women play in promoting and defending democracy to stem the tide of democratic backsliding.

The forum brought together politicians and social activists from West African countries such as Liberia, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Sierra Leone to discuss democracy in the Sub-region and its effect on women.

It was organised by the  Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCED)  in Accra on Tuesday, and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

It was on the theme “The Role of Women in Stemming the Tide of Democratic Backsliding in West Africa”.

Women in politics

The Executive Director of the Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCED), Esther Tawiah, explained that some ECOWAS member countries were backsliding in promoting democracy although they had signed onto the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy, which states that countries ought to have two term limits.

“Now we see countries backsliding and changing their constitution to enable their Presidents to go for a third term,” she said.

She, however, commended Burkina Faso for having a progressive electoral law and progressive state funding which enables the state to support women candidature.

She also commended Sierra Leone for leading the charge in women inclusiveness in governance and policy formation.

“We thank Sierra Leone for the new Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act that directs political parties to ensure women constitute 30 per cent of its list.

“Parties that submit their list without meeting the criteria would outrightly be dismissed.

This is a very good thing, we must strengthen democracy and make it more inclusive,” she said. 

Barriers

In a speech read on her behalf, the Director of the Department of Gender at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Faustina Acheampong, said women brought meaningful reform to political and social movements.

Despite such a significant role, she said women continued to face some barriers in their participation in politics and governance. 

“Gender-based violence, discrimination and patriarchal norms often prevent women from accessing leadership positions or playing an active role in decision-making processes,” she said.

She said it was important to empower women and also create an enabling environment to increase their participation in politics and governance.

The Acting Head of Democracy, Good Governance and Human right at the ECOWAS Directorate of Political Affairs, Serigne Ka, also expressed the commitment of ECOWAS to advance inclusiveness in the sub-region.

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