Published On : Wednesday, September 14 2016
Special Election Observation Training and Mission in the Context of Ghana’s Election 2016
A three day election observation training workshop which forms part of activities under the Gender Sensitive Election Observation project to help track and observe how female parliamentary candidates in Ghana fare over the course of the 2016 electoral cycle, was organized by the Kofi Annan International Peace Training Centre (KAIPTC), under the auspices of the Women, Peace and Security Institute (WPSI) from August 23-25, 2016. Participants for the workshop included members of the Women, Peace and Security Communication Network (WPS CommNet) and civil society organisations from selected constituencies from nine regions in Ghana, excluding the Upper East region, in which five political parties; the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the People’s National Convention (PNC) and the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP) have women aspiring to be parliamentarians in the upcoming Parliamentary and Presidential elections slated for December 7, 2016.
The importance ascribed to elections in democratic processes of developing countries is based in part on the potential to guarantee men, women, minorities, majorities, the affluent and the dispossessed to be represented in governance and other public institutions. Evidence shows that women’s election to office often leads to increase in policy making that emphasizes quality of life and reflects the priorities of families, women, ethnic and racial minorities. Again, women’s political participation has profound positive and democratic impacts on communities, legislations, political parties and citizens’ lives as a whole. The Gender Sensitive and Women Focused Election Observation project ultimately is expected to contribute to ongoing efforts at boosting support for the women’s agenda at the national level as well as contributing to a better understanding of the factors and dynamics that affect women’s political participation while helping to identify the gaps and challenges that have implications for their success or otherwise in the political and public spheres.
In Ghana, there has been progress towards increasing women’s participation and representation in decision making at both the local and national levels, however persistent systemic and structural factors continue to inhibit women’s advancement and attainment of gender equity. For instance, currently, women make up only nine percent in Parliament compared to twenty percent in the first republic which still remains far below the minimum threshold of thirty percent representation of women recommended by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
The reasons for the low level of female representation may be partly due to the patriarchal social structures that insist on assigning women to the private and domestic sphere while the political and public sphere remain the preserve of men. In fact viewed from the perspectives of women representatives from some political parties, namely; Madam Janet Nabla, Madam Vivian Tetteh, Hajia Aisha Sulley Futa and Peace Aryee, of the People’s National Congress (PNC), People’s Progressive Party (PPP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the National Democratic Party (NDP) respectively. According to them, the masculinity of the political sphere continue to relegate women to the background which does not promote equity and inclusiveness. They unanimously made pronouncements towards advocating for changes in party structures and practices by to enhance participation and representation of women in politics. They were hopeful that with increased advocacy by women’s groups and with support by men, a lot can be achieved. Again, a unified voice among women’s groups to push the advocacy is what is needed to increase the chances of women aspirants in the upcoming elections in 2016. Women’s empowerment has the potential of positively impacting the standard of living and sustainability of Ghana’s development process.