The Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), on Thursday launched a book examining the gender dimensions of political appointments in the country since independence.
The book is entitled “A gender analysis of political appointments in Ghana since independence.”
Dr Abdulai Darimani, Acting Director Institute of Local Government Studies, said the book highlighted two critical issues in a democratic discourse.
He said the first was that it underscored politics as an important part of democratic development and participatory governance, and the second it showed the importance of gender equality in national development, in particular the decentralization reform process.
He said the choice about the methods and directions of national development were preceded by political decisions, saying the current system of decentralization in Ghana began when political decision was taken to cede off some power at the centre to local authorities.
“Political decision is the driver of the entire process of decentralization and development and can be made to exclude key actors in the development process. Our history of participatory development has shown that women in particular have been disadvantaged in their representation in many aspects of our social and political life,” he said.
Dr Darimani said the key objective of the research was to assess efforts by successive governments in mainstreaming gender in politics by examining the gender dimension of political appointments since independence.
He said knowledge production through research and publication is a core mandate of the Institute; and to continue to deliver on their mandate better through evidence-based and participatory research, the book was part of the progress made by the Institute in the delivery of its mandate.
Dr Darimani commended the FES for the partnership, adding that the Institute looks forward to continuous working relations for the production of knowledge in support of decentralization in particular and the efficient public sector management in general.
He urged other development partners to partner with the Institute in the production of technical papers that would support decentralization policy making and implementation.
Madam Charity Elikem Dzradosi, ILGS, said specifically, the study sought to examine the number of female and male appointees of governments from 1960-2017; identify the factors that motivated appointees to take up political positions, establish the various areas/sectors of appointments; identify the corresponding gender and regional balance in the appointments; and examine the achievements and challenges of women appointees.
She said the study, which adopted both qualitative and quantitative methods, was conducted in four regions of Ghana, Greater Accra, Ashanti, Western and Northern Regions, based on their cosmopolitan nature, representativeness and relatively large population sizes.
She said in all, 200 respondents were selected randomly for the survey while 19 participants were purposefully selected for the in-depth Interviews.
Madam Dzradosi said the findings of the study showed that since independence in 1957, Ghana has made several efforts to increase the participation of women in governance and that the criteria for appointment to political positions were the same for males and females.
“With the level of education being the main criterion for appointment, the study found that both men and women appointees were selected based on their educational background and expertise, however, there are perceptions that some sectors has been feminised and are therefore continually occupied by women appointees.”
She said regarding achievements, the study showed that when given the opportunity women execute their jobs excellently relative to their male counterparts.
However, majority 91.5 percent of respondents were of the view that women face numerous challenges in their political career while 8.5 percent disagreed.
Madam Dzradosi said negative traditional beliefs and perceptions, negative media reportage and opinions from the public were identified as some of the reasons for the challenges women had in politics.
She said women also faced issues combining their public life roles with their gender roles as wives and caregivers.
The study concluded that Ghana was lagging in the appointment of women into political positions.
Considering the multiple roles that women play in the home and communities, they must be major stakeholders who contribute positively to development. Indeed, appointing women in governance especially at the local level can promote and unify communities.
She called for massive education by the National Commission for Civic Education and other state institutions to sensitise citizens, on the importance of women’s participation in nation building, adding that a code of ethics should be adopted by political parties to implement affirmative action within the political parties to ensure equal representation
In addition, she said, the media, political parties and civil society organizations should highlight the achievements of women in politics to encourage more women to get involved, saying this way, successful female politicians would be seen as role models that would inspire other women.
Madam Dzradosi also called on political parties to encourage political activism among young men and women at the grassroots level to enable them contest for the leadership of community-based organisations and town development committees thereby preparing them to take more challenging political appointments.
Madam Ernestina Ofoe, Programmes Coordinator, FES expressed the hope that the recommendations of the report would guide government and all stakeholders to work towards providing the nurturing and rewarding environment for gender equality and advancement.