MAP OF GHANA. PROMOTING GENDER EQUALITY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT THE GHANA EXPERIENCE PRESENTED AT: SEMINAR FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT FEMALE DECISION-MAKERS OF THE NORTH - SOUTH COOPERATION 18TH – 20TH MAY 2009 HELSINKI, FINLAND BY: COUNCILOR JOYCELYN DOTSE – OCHLICH
IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
PRESENTED AT: SEMINAR FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT FEMALE DECISION-MAKERS OF THE NORTH - SOUTH COOPERATION
18TH – 20TH MAY 2009 HELSINKI, FINLAND
COUNCILOR JOYCELYN DOTSE – OCHLICH
CHAIRPERSON: GENDER AND CHILDREN SUB-COMMITTEE
HO MUNICIPAL ASSEMBLY, GHANA
I would like, first, to thank the organizers of this Programme for inviting a delegation from the Ho Municipal Assembly to attend this seminar. I bring you greetings from the new Mayor Isaac Kotobisa.
This paper describes the role of local and central government of Ghana in promoting gender equality and its challenges. It also presents interventions promoted through laws, legislations and conventions at local and national level for promoting gender equality.
Since independence, Ghana has gone through a number of efforts to decentralize political and administrative authority from the centre to the local level. The most comprehensive effort began in 1988, when extensive powers and competencies were transferred to districts. One hundred and ten (110) district assemblies were created as legislative, executive, planning and rating authorities.
Among them is Ho Municipal Assembly.
In1900, she led the Ashanti rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool against British Colonialism. ( “if you the men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we the women will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields." )
Ghana’s decentralization program has sought to create administrative and developmental decision making structures in the Districts. This is to democratize the system of government to achieve a more equitable allocation of power and wealth in the development process. It is also intended to unearth and develop local talent and initiative and train people for participation in higher levels.
It is envisaged that decision making would begin from the local government to the national and back to local level. Therefore, local government is the sphere of government that is nearer to the people and their everyday concerns.
Yet, women have not been able to take advantage of their potential to shape decisions due to low representation.
The ratio of female / male membership of both Parliament and the District Assemblies does not reflect a population composed of over 51 per cent women. Women account for less than 10 % of people in public office.
In the 1998 District Assembly elections, out of an overall total of 4,820 elected candidates, only 196 were women while 4,624 were men.
There has been no significant increase in women’s participation in 2002 election since out of a total of 4,583 candidates elected, only 341 were women whilst 4,241 were men.
Though there were small increases in the number of women from 3 per cent in 1994 to 5 per cent in 1998 to 7 per cent in 2002, women’s participation continues to be extremely low.
Since there is no affirmative action policy to promote women’s political participation, individual women are left on their own to compete in the aggressive male dominated world.
In 2002, there were only 5 female councilors (2 elected) against 49 male councilors making 9.3 %.
In 2006, the figure increased to 20 female councilors against 36 male councilors making 35.7%. (From 2002 to 2006, increase of 84%)
In 2009, there is a further increase to 24 female councilors against 38 male councilors making 38.7%. (From 2006 to 2009, only 8.4% increase)
In the 1st Republic of Ghana (1960), 10 extra seats were created purposely for women in Parliament by the then 1st President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
In the 2nd Republic in 1969, only two women were elected into Parliament.
In the 3rd Republic in 1979, six women were elected into a 140 member House.
In the first Parliament of the 4th Republic (1992) 10 women out of 200 members were elected.
In the 2nd Parliament of the 4th Republic (1996) 19 women out of 200 members were elected.
In the 3rd Parliament of the 4th Republic (2002), 18 women out of 200 members were elected.
In the 4th Parliament of the 4th Republic (2004) 25 women out of 230 members were elected.
Currently, in the 5th Parliament of the 4th Republic (2008) the number of women has reduced to 20 from the previous 25 out of a 230 members of Parliament.
Women have limited access to resources compared with men. They have been constrained from entering local politics by the lack of finances for campaigning, limited access to information, time constraints needed to manage domestic responsibilities, income-generation activities and political work.
The literacy level of women councilors affects their capacity to comprehend and engage in technical processes which the council engages in. In spite of good government policies to promote education for all, a good number of women of leadership age are still of low education especially in the rural areas. Hence, they are shy, lack confidence and have low self-esteem.
Political parties are dominated by men who tend to resist greater participation of women. Despite the provision in the Party Manifestoes to provide at least 40% participation of women in the governance of the country, the parties are not pro-active in changing their own nature and supporting more women to engage in local politics.
The electoral process is fraught with corruption, violence, bribery and attacks on the dignity and private lives of individual candidates. Husbands and families are therefore reluctant to have their women in the public eye. This is a major deterrent to women’s involvement in politics and gender equality.
Most female leaders lack negotiation and lobbying skills. This undermines their capacity to compete objectively with their male counter parts.
They also lack networking skills and exposure.
Most men feel that by the biological role of women as mothers, female leaders can not serve well in leadership positions. Due to excessive domestic roles, women leaders find it hard to keep time or hit deadlines at the work places and this results in poor participation in the decision making process. Some women even risk loosing their jobs when they get pregnant.
Political parties and local governments do not take account of the reality of women’s role in social reproduction when organizing meetings and political events, or developing election campaigns.
There is little if any recognition of the unequal division of labour between women and men within households. Women have numerous responsibilities in the family and these consume a lot of their time, energy and resources.
WORK LOAD ON WOMEN IN GHANA
5. LAWS / LEGISLATIONS TO PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY
1. The Constitution of Ghana
Laws are meant to regulate society and protect the human rights of all citizens. The 1992 Constitution has clear provisions guaranteeing the fundamental human rights of all citizens and prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender. Article 35 (5 and 6) enjoins the state to end all forms of discrimination through law reform and affirmative action.
Recent achievements include Gender Budgeting (2009), the approval of the Domestic Violence Act (2007) and the Trafficking in Human Law (2006). The criminalization of harmful traditional practices such as Trokosi (ritual servitude) and Female Genital Cutting or Mutilation (FGC/M), and the 1998 Children’s Act (criminalizing under age and forced marriage) provide strong legal foundation to protect women and children.
However, the full implementations of existing laws are constrained by challenges of capacity and lack of resources.
2.Ministry of Women and Children Affairs
In 2001, the government of Ghana established the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC) to promote gender equality and children’ affairs but the effectiveness of the gender machinery suffers from weak institutional capacity and budgetary constraints. MOWAC is mandated to coordinate policymaking, planning and monitoring progress.
MOWAC’s regional offices coordinate program implementation, but the representation does not reach the districts. Most of the responsibility of gender mainstreaming in line ministries is designated to individual staff – Gender Desk Officers (GDOs) who are not working on gender on full time basis and have little training and preparation. The fact that only a few District Assemblies (DAs) have recruited gender focal persons suggests that gender planning and monitoring is weak at the local level.
3. National Gender and Children’s Policy
The National Gender and Children’s Policy (2004) is an integral part of the National Development Process and Objectives of the Country. The overall goal of the policy is to mainstream gender concerns into the National Development Process in order to improve the social, legal / civic, political, economic and cultural conditions of the people of Ghana, particularly women and children. However, the Policy has yet to be widely circulated and understood among key stakeholders.
4. Affirmative Action for Women Councilors
The Government instituted affirmative action policy to reserve 30% of the appointed membership at the district level for women. While this has increased their numbers, they must be assisted to use the opportunity effectively through regular training.
5. Vision 2020 Development Policy Framework
Ghana’s Development Policy Framework Vision 2020 requires District Assemblies to protect and promote the interests of Women, Children and the Vulnerable, especially in the areas of Income Generation Activities, Education, Nutrition and access to Health Care. This gives women a legitimate basis to require support from Assemblies. It also puts the onus on assemblies to plan how to achieve this in a sustainable manner.
6. International Human Rights Instruments
Ghana also has obligations under international human rights instrument s such as the UN Charter of 1095 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 1979. Ghana also has obligations under regional instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. The State is required to incorporate the provisions of these instruments into national laws.
7. United Nations Commitments on Women
Ghana also has commitments arising from various UN conferences on women. The 1985 Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies (NLS), the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action (PfA) and the 2000 review of the Beijing commitments, known as Beijing +5. The Vienna Human Rights Conference, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) 1994, the Social Summit (1994) and more recently, the 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have clear provisions for improving the status of women and promote gender equality.
In spite of these laws, conventions and commitments, women continue to suffer bias and discrimination in Ghana.
Ghanaian women remain on the fringes of local and national affairs and are confronted by limited options and formidable social, economic and cultural barriers that place them at great disadvantage.
Power and influence in the management of political and economic processes for development has continued to be exercised in favour of men. Women are therefore disadvantaged. Gender equality is not being achieved.
That Government should initiate a constitutional review process to be completed by the year 2015 to ensure that all constitutional provisions, promote the principles of fundamental human rights, freedoms, economic and social rights for all women and men on equal basis.
That all arms of government and political parties take action to promote the transformation of the political culture to make it more transparent, accountable and sensitive to the needs and concerns of women.
That the government make and implement an affirmative action policy with legal backing to progressively increase the number of women candidates for parliament and district assemblies to at least 50 per cent by the year 2015
That the government ensures that by 2015, 50 per cent of appointees to District Assemblies and to the offices of District Chief Executive and Co-ordinating Director are women.
That regular budgetary provision is made for capacity building of District Assembly Members, especially women.
That women and men in district assemblies should have equal access to resources and funds for development work.
That government should institute measures which promote shared responsibilities of life for both women and men as a means of creating balance in family and work responsibilities thus facilitating women’s active participation in public life.
That constitutional provision and the sections of the CEDAW and Platform for Action regarding women’s equal participation in decision making are implemented by the government of Ghana by the year 2015.
That by 2015, the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) and MOWAC develops and implements a comprehensive Programme to create awareness about the provisions of International, Regional and National Women’s Rights Laws and Instruments and inculcate in the general public, respect for the rights of women.
That law enforcement institutions vigorously implement laws passed to protect women’s rights including the prosecution of violations of such laws.