Monetisation of politics preventing African women from engaging in politics - Ayisha Osori
A Director at the office of the Executive Vice President of Open Society Foundations, Ayisha Osori, has expressed the concern that the monitisation of politics in many African countries remains a major obstacle preventing many women from actively engaging in politics on the continent.
She said many African women were at the bottom of the economic pyramid, hence making it difficult for them to compete for political positions with their male counterparts who are financially stable.
Speaking at the opening-day of a two-day conference organised by the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) in collaboration with the University of Ghana’s Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, Ms. Osori, said as long as politics is about money, women will continue to be in a disadvantaged position.
For her, women are needed in politics to ensure that women’s needs are fully represented.
The conference, which was held at the Auditorium of the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation Research, University of Ghana, was on the theme: “Increasing women’s political presence in West Africa.”
MIASA is an Institute under the College of Humanities at the University of Ghana and is jointly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the University of Ghana.
MIASA serves as a hub for exchange, networking, and collaboration among leading researchers from Germany, Ghana, and other scholars from around the globe.
An important focus of MIASA is to encourage intellectual exchange across disciplines and between junior and senior researchers through its Interdisciplinary Fellow Groups (IFGs).
Ms. Osori, who was delivering a keynote address on the theme: “Women’s political power in West Africa and the global context of democracy and its discontent: The case of Nigeria,” said "We need women in politics because the society is made up of women and men with different life experiences."
For her, a combination of women and men in politics will deliver better governance system for the betterment of society, explaining that since men and women have different needs, it is important to have both of them in politics so that they can bring to bear their different needs.
Ms. Osori also urged women to belong to political parties and be recognised and seen so that they can contest for political offices in their parties.
She said women stand to benefit a lot when they join political parties and become active members, noting that it will be difficult for women who do not belong to political parties to be allowed to contest for positions in party-politics.
She said political parties only recognise card-bearing members and that without becoming a card bearing member of a political party, it will be difficult for women to contest on the tickets of such parties for any political office.
"We need to be in the parties to fund the parties so that the politicians can stop using the state money to fund the parties," Ms. Osori said, adding "Parties need us; they need the people that is why joining political parties is the way to participate in political activities.”
Understanding women’s role
The MIASA Director, Germany, Dr Susann Baller, said the issue of increasing women’s political presence, particularly in Africa, was key to MIASA.
She said the conference offers insightful examples of how we can understand political presence, power and representation in different contexts.
“As a result, we insist on gender balance in our fellow selection and we organise a female Academic Careers in Africa workshop in collaboration with the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy, university of Ghana,” she said.
For Dr Baller, MIASA was devoted to promoting female scholarship on the African continent and beyond, adding that an important focus of MIASA is to encourage intellectual exchange across disciplines and between junior and senior researchers through its Interdisciplinary Fellow Groups (IFGs).
The Director of MIASA, Ghana, Dr. Grace Diabah, who read a speech on behalf of the Provost of the College of Humanities, University of Ghana, Professor Daniel Ofori, commended MIASA for its continued interest in the development of women.