Some African countries have already introduced a quo-ta system for women in parliament – Rwanda (2003), South Africa (1994) and Uganda (1989). But Ghana is not yet on this ‘fast track’. There are several reasons for the low representation of women in parliament.
The ‘First-Past-The-Post’ Electoral System: This comes with an in-built winner-takes-all bias that can lead to distorted patterns of representation.
The substantial monetization of politics sees women from (often) economically disadvantaged positions struggling to compete at the constituency level.
Stereotypes regarding women who want to be in the political terrain. Our cultural narratives have conferred leadership on men for centuries so a woman navigating this is already disadvantaged within the political space.
Knowledge- based resources about our electoral processes and schemes as well as the constitution of political parties remain a barrier. As it is said ‘knowledge is power’
CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES FOR WOMEN TO WIN ELECTIONS AT ALL LEVELS
Compared to their male opponents, female candidates are left with many disadvantages especially when it comes to finances.
RUNNING LEAN CAMPAIGNS
- Solicit help mainly from people who are excited by the elections and your campaign. Be specific what you need and what you need it for.
- Female candidates in the absence of party finance can mobilise to change campaign finance laws and force their parties to allocate to female candidates a percentage of funds for campaign expenses.
- Running as an independent. Identify allies who have power who may be religious and traditional leaders who can convince others to vote for you and also lead you to find resources.
- Independent candidates can also gain visibility by forming coalitions with other female candidates.
VOLUNTEERS ARE ESSENTIAL
- Use volunteers. Especially, young people who want to gain experience in politics. You can also convince women to work for you by explaining how they will benefit from having more women in power.
WHAT ROLE CAN CIVIL SOCIETY PLAY?
- Create campaigns and show that women can be good leaders;
- Educate women on the importance of voting – which can lead to the election of more women;
- Introduce women’s issues at the heart of the election debates, forcing candidates to take a stand.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS TO ENSURE GENDER EQUALITY
Convention On The Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). An international Bill of Rights for Women adopted in 1979 by the UN. Ghana signed the convention in 1980 and deposited it in 1986. Beijing Platform For Action. An agenda for women’s empowerment, adopted at the UN’s 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. African Charter On Human And Peoples’ Rights. An international human rights instrument, also known as the Banjul Charter, under the aegis of the AU. It came into effect in 1986. The Maputo Protocol: Charter on women’s right to social and political equality with men, adopted by the AU in 2003. (Source): Nordiska Afrikainstitutet: Women’s Political Representation and Affirmative Action in Ghana-Policy Note 1:2019) Link (http://nai.diva portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1284607/FULLTEXT01.pdf)