The recent provisional results of the 2020 Population and Housing Census released by the Ghana Statistical Service re-emphasized a notorious fact; that women constitute a majority of our population. 50.7% of all persons living in Ghana are women yet they have been consistently underrepresented at the table of decision-making.
The recent nomination of MMDCEs illustrates my point; just 38 women were nominated in a 260-member list. There were no women nominees from the Ahafo and Western North regions and in the largest districts; Ashanti and Eastern, only four out of 43 and five out of 33 women were nominated respectively. Upon hindsight, the President only increased the number of women nominated as MMDCEs in 2021 by two. This nomination fairly represents the underrepresentation of women in various sectors of the country. Out of the 50.7% of Ghana’s population who are women, only 30 are serving as Members of Parliament in a 275 member house while just eight out of the 85 Ministers are women.
In July 2017, a few months after Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo ascended to Ghana’s Presidency, he was named the ‘AU Gender Champion.’ For someone who was barely seven months in his role and given such recognition of his efforts and encouragement to do more, I was thrilled when he appointed Ghana’s first-ever Chief of Staff, Frema Osei-Opare, and ensured another woman succeeded then outgoing Chief Justice. These were spots of pride and fulfillment for anyone interested in promoting gender equality.
However, in 2019, President Akufo-Addo became the subject of public ridicule when he attributed the underrepresentation of women in positions of power to a lack of dynamism on their part at the “Women Deliver” conference in Vancouver, Canada.“The most important thing is power… but Ghanaian women have not shown enough dynamism and activism to deserve a place on the decision-making table”. This claim, as was refuted when it was first made, still remains untrue.
Many women have over the years shown competence in various fields, yet they are underrepresented in various spaces while men can afford the luxury of being pampered even when exercising poor judgment. They enjoy the privilege of not answering for their actions or being held accountable. In 2020, Kan Dapaah only endured a few hours of trolling when a video call with his mistress went viral. He was never sanctioned for his carelessness as a National Security Minister.
Women are usually at the periphery due to systems and beliefs that promote their subjugation. Again, living in a society that perpetuates priori male leadership worsens the situation. In such a society, the few women passionate about being part of the governance process have to constantly deal with attacks on their womanhood, competence, or marital status. They are persistently required to explain why they are divorcees, although there isn’t any correlation between one’s marital status and competence.
The aversion towards ambitious women is deeply steeped in culture, religion, and patriarchal systems and practices that perpetuate the ideology that women do not deserve to be in positions of power by virtue of their gender. This idealogy is not only problematic but false, given that women at the helm of affairs across the world have shown their competence, especially in their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, while men grapple with the same.
Indeed, a 2020 study suggested that women leaders across the world responded better to the Covid-19 scourge than their male counterparts, a lucid testament to how things can be better when women are given the opportunity to lead.
“Our results clearly indicate that women leaders reacted more quickly and decisively in the face of potential fatalities,” said Supriya Garikipati, a developmental economist at Liverpool University, co-author with Reading University’s Uma Kambhampati.
“In almost all cases, they locked down earlier than male leaders in similar circumstances. While this may have longer-term economic implications, it has certainly helped these countries to save lives, as evidenced by the significantly lower number of deaths in these countries,” the report said.
As gender advocate, Alaa Mubarit said at the Vancouver conference; there are dynamic women in Ghana undertaking impactful initiatives, but they will remain underrepresented if they are not amplified.
Given that the window of the MMDCEs’ appointment appears shut, the President still has the opportunity to let the AU Gender Champion title reflect in his actions and appointments of women into decision-making positions. Our numbers must count for something!
The writer, Marian Ansah, is a journalist with citinewsroom.comRead Full Story