Mrs Jean Mensa

Members of Network for Women’s Rights (NET RIGHT) have commended Mrs Jean Mensa, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, for spearheading successful Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in December 2020.

It noted that despite the numerous challenges, including the uncertainties around the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission instituted effective and efficient structures, which resulted in some successful initiatives including the replacement of the Voters Register.

The Network said the foundation and structures laid made the elections successful.

Mrs Dorcas Coker-Appiah, the spokesperson of the Network, said this when she paid a courtesy call on Mrs Mensa in her office in Accra.

The meeting also sought to explore areas of partnership, including how the Network could support the EC Chairperson and other females heading public institutions in the country.

Mrs Coker-Appiah said, “We know the stiff opposition you faced and its associated vilification right from when you were appointed through to the period after the 2020 General Elections.

“We assure you and other women in high public offices of our steadfast support toward making you succeed.”

Professor Takyiwaa Manuh, Professor Emerita at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, averred that women were just as competent as men to occupy public office.

She hinted at the establishment of a non-political institution whose mandate would be to provide a safe space, support, and mentorship to women in public office.

Prof. Manuh expressed concern about the limited representation of women in the decision-making positions and noted that any electoral reforms should ensure that women were offered meaningful representation.

She expressed concern about the current civil space that had been characterised by the demonisation of personalities, particularly women.

She noted that women were not above criticism, but criticisms ought to be constructive and not limited to personality attacks.

Mrs Hilary Gbedemah, a women’s rights lawyer, noted that even at the international level, the gains made, regarding the empowerment of women were being eroded.

She noted that several international treaties and conventions aimed at promoting the rights of women had been ignored and in some cases revoked.

In her view, one sure way to ensure that women’s issues remained at the front of national policy was by harnessing the voices of women and providing appropriate channels to enable women to speak out on the key issues confronting the country and women.

Mrs Mensa thanked the group for the support since her appointment and assured them of the Commission’s commitment to work tirelessly to ensure credible, free, transparent, and peaceful elections in Ghana.

“You were a source of knowledge and inspiration. Indeed some of you suggested some constructive proposals that were successful during the 2020 electoral process. Your recommendations behind the scenes helped strengthen the Commission’s work and processes” she added.

She said occupying high offices such as the head of the Electoral Commission could sometimes be “lonely as there were no trusted spaces to share experiences and engage with other women.”

Mrs Mensa noted that “Women have a strong voice but unfortunately we have not used that voice effectively to speak up against the bullying and vilification of women in the society.”

She affirmed her support towards instituting initiatives to empower women to participate actively in politics.

On electoral reforms, the EC Chairperson noted that the Commission was conducting a post-election assessment with key stakeholders to strengthen its processes.

“We are not resting on the successes of the recent elections. We are currently in the process of reflection and discussions to ensure that our electoral processes are further strengthened,” Mrs Mensa said.

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