The monetisation of politics in Africa is impeding the effective participation of women in political and electoral processes, Ayisha Osori, a democracy and governance expert, has said.
Madam Osori, who is the Director of Open Society Foundations, a civil society organisation, observed that many women on the continent did not have the ability to raise the needed capital to fund their political activities.
Speaking to journalists at the opening of a conference on Increasing Women’s Political Presence in West Africa at the University of Ghana (UG), Legon on Tuesday, she said bankrollers of political parties and activists were mainly men and thus, made it difficult for women to overcome the monetary barriers.
The two-day conference was organised by the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa at the University of Ghana.
The Conference sought to offer insights into understanding political presence, power, and representation in different contexts and how political practice could be expressed in those contexts in different ways.
Madam Osori said there was the need to remove all forms of barriers that discouraged women from actively participating in political activities.
“Generally, women are at the bottom of the economic pyramid…As long as politics is about money, then how can women who are politically disadvantaged suddenly become politicians where you need money to win in politics,” she said.
Madam Osori encouraged women to join political parties and become delegates, not necessarily to take political positions, but be involved in the democratic processes.
She said women should not feel tainted by politics and that their involvement in the political environment would present an opportunity for them to demonstrate a good example of their values and principles.
“We can make politics attractive to women by holding people accountable.
“The more we hold people accountable for maybe abusing people trust of funds, then we find that it is good place for people to come in,” Madam Osori said.
Professor Daniel Frimpong Ofori, the Provost of College of Humanities, UG, said in formal political spaces, women in West Africa were very poorly represented as compared to those in other parts of the sub-region.
“Data from the Inter- Parliamentary Union for example shows that while Rwanda tops not just Africa but globally in terms of women in parliaments with 54.8 per cent of its parliamentarians being women in 2021, Ghana’s rate is 14.5 per cent; Burkina Faso at 6.3 per cent, and Liberia at an even lower 3.3 per cent,” he said.
Prof. Ofori said women were more visible in traditional political spaces where chiefs ruled alongside Queen mothers.
A study by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development in 2022 found that it cost about US$100 million to effectively fund a presidential campaign in Ghana.
The study, which was conducted in four out of the 16 regions, also found that an amount of US$693,000, the equivalent of GHS4 million, was required to prosecute a parliamentary campaign.