The Centre for Social Mobilization and Development (CENSODEV), a Non-Governmental Organization has launched a gender responsive project in the Upper East Region to promote women’s participation in local governance, to achieve gender parity and inclusive development.
The six months project is on the theme, “empowering women and girls for leadership positions to champion local governance and community development”.
It is being supported by Plan International Ghana as part of its “Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL)” and funded by the Global Affairs Canada.
It would equip women and girls with the needed knowledge and skills of the workings of the local government structures to enable them participate in decision making to address challenges affecting their growth.
Addressing stakeholders at the launch, held in Navrongo in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality of the Upper East Region, Mr Braimah Sanjage, the Executive Director of CENSODEV, noted that the project would be implemented in two districts and outreaches in additional three districts in the region.
The beneficiary districts are; the Kassena-Nankana Municipal and Kassena-Nankana West as the concentration points, while efforts would be made to include; Builsa North Municipal, Builsa South and Bongo Districts.
The Executive Director explained that women’s participation in decision process was key to the socio-economic development of the country, but there was low representation at the governance level despite the efforts.
Mr Sanjage attributed the phenomenon to lack of knowledge and confidence regarding the operation of certain leadership roles.
He said the project would work to encourage women to take up leadership roles at the Zonal, Urban, Town and Area Councils (ZUTAC), to build their confidence for high positions.
“Currently, there exist low interests and minimal competition in the elections of Unit Committee members who form the majority in ZUTAC as compared to the District Assembly. The Women and the marginalized in hard-to-reach communities who are in majority, would be empowered to take centre stage, as grassroots development agents.
“They would have the skills and confidence to advocate access to and control over resources, respect for women’s rights and the extent to which women and girls are perceived as equal to men and boys,” he said.
He indicated that as part of the implementation strategies of the project, a baseline survey would be conducted and it would inform them of the current state of women representation at ZUTAC and empower selected women for leadership positions.
He said his outfit would be collaborating with key stakeholders including; the traditional authorities, National Commission for Civic Education and the media among others to amplify voices of women and help break sociocultural barriers that hinder their progress.
Madam Felicia Ajongba, the Kassena-Nankana Municipal Director of the NCCE, stated that lack of control of resources continued to be a major hindrance to women’s participation in governance and urged all stakeholders to work towards empowering women with economic activities.
Pognaba Christiana Asindikye Nge, the Paramount Queenmother of Bongo Traditional Area, who lauded the initiative of CENSODEV and its partners identified violence and discrimination against women as one of the factors hampering their progress.
She said policy makers needed to enforce the numerous policies and programmes formulated to empower and protect women and girls to achieve an inclusive developed society.