The issue of women’s representation in government and politics has been a major concern for many countries across the globe. In Ghana, the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, in collaboration with the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and other stakeholders, has organized a program aimed at sensitizing women on the need to take up leadership roles in their various communities. The purpose of this program is to find solutions to why women shy away from politics, create awareness on the need for women to actively participate in all forms of election, advocate for women’s rights, educate women to do away with all forms of religious, cultural, social, and ethnic barriers against women’s participation in local governance, and encourage women’s participation at the local government level.
In the 1960s, it was discovered that women were the backbone of the agrarian economy, which focused mostly on peasant farming to feed the family and sell the rest. Women and children did most of the farm work, yet their efforts were not recognized, and they were relegated to the kitchen. Women were referred to as productive and reproductive agents, which prompted Esther Boserups to publish a paper on the inequalities and injustices women faced. This led to the Women in Development (WID) agenda, which sought to address women’s concerns. However, the approach failed to cater to men, leading to the birth of Women in Development (WAD). The Gender and Development (GAD) approach bridged the gap between men and women politically, socially, and economically.
Governance is concerned with the structure and processes involved in decision-making, accountability, control, and behavior of entities’ top. The principles of good governance include participatory, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus-oriented, equity and inclusiveness, effectiveness, and efficiency. The arms of government are the Executive (President), Legislature (lawmaking), and Judiciary (Supreme/Lower court). Women’s political participation is a prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy. It facilitates women’s direct engagement in public decision-making and ensures better accountability to women.
The hindrances to women’s participation include lack of knowledge, time, family problems, money, marital status, age, poverty, and illiteracy.
To encourage women’s participation, more girls should be encouraged to go and remain in school, women should be educated on their rights, their confidence and capacity should be built, funding should be provided, gender equality should be championed, measures should be adopted that ensure women are reserved some seats in governing institutions, working across party lines through parliamentary women’s causes, and championing issues of gender equality such as elimination of gender-based violence.
Most of the participants contributed immensely with questions and answers. Some men questioned why the department is focusing on women and children and not men. The participants promised to encourage their fellow women to send their female children to school and ensure they remain in school by providing their needs.
A total of 111 people attended the program, comprising 96 females and 15 males. The implementation of the collaboration program was successful, and the staff and administration of LaDMA are commended.