Mr Alban Bagbin, Speaker of Parliament, has assured Ghanaians that the House will work hard in partnership with civil society organizations (CSOs) to ensure the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill.
He said the Bill which sought to attain 50-50 representation for men and women in Parliament over time was before Cabinet for validation.
“We shall give it the priority attention it deserves to ensure its passage before the end of the year,” Mr Bagbin stated on Friday at the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) – European Union (EU) seminar on the Affirmative Action Bill held in Accra.
“The Executive urgently wants it passed and our lawmakers are equally eager to make this happen.”
The seminar was on the theme, “Strengthening Women Inclusion in Governance and the Urgency of the Affirmative Action Bill: Progress, Challenges and the Way Forward”.
The Speaker said Parliament would also ensure that the leadership positions occupied by women in Parliament were commensurate with women’s representation in the House.
He said the Bill, when passed into law, would ensure that over time Ghana would take its rightful place among the countries with the highest women representation in decision making institutions.
He said the Eighth Parliament would strengthen its collaboration with Civil Society Organizations as one of its strategic objectives to deepen democracy in Ghana and ensure that the country did not lose its position as the beacon of democracy on the continent.
Mr Bagbin pointed out that consciously and deliberately creating opportunities for women in various leadership roles should not be seen as a favour to women: “it is a benefit to us all as individuals, communities, societies and nations”.
He noted that this was what the famous Dr James Emmanuel Kwegyir Aggrey meant when he said “the surest way to keep people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. If you educate a man, you simply educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation”.
He said there was a lot of research data that suggested that the more the number of women in the boardroom and senior management positions, the better the profitability of the organization as well as its impact on society.
The Speaker said equitable participation of women in democracy governance was a collective responsibility.
He said the Executive, Judiciary, political parties, CSOs and even the electoral management body all had a role to play, but at the end of the day, unless Parliament enacted the appropriate legislation to advance this crucial democratic cause, the goal of giving the nation’s women their well-deserved place in leadership, and more particularly in governance, could not be attained.
He said the Parliament of Ghana had fully accepted the responsibility to give the legislative push to women’s full and free participation in the nation’s governance.
He said Ghana, the first country to gain political independence in sub-Saharan Africa after World War II and today’s beacon of democracy on the continent was not in a very good place as far as women’s involvement in their governance was concerned.
He said Ghana stood at 141 in global ranking in terms of women’s representation in Parliament and number 36 in Africa, adding that, this meant that the minimum of 30 per cent representation for women in governance which the UN had set had not been met by Ghana.
Mr Bagbin said fortunately, in the current Eighth Parliament there were 40 women: New Patriotic Party (NPP) 20 and National Democratic Congress (NDC) 20, up from 38 in the Seventh Parliament, declaring that this brought the percentage of women’s representation to approximately 14.5 per cent.
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director, IDEG, said there were several formulae that could be adopted to increase women representation in local governance, not only in the district assemblies as chief executives but in a whole variety of places.
He said there could be structural reforms that could create room for the expansion of space for representation not only in parliament but in the executive arm of Government.
Mr Pieter Smidt Van Gelder, Deputy Head of Mission, EU Delegation to Ghana, who said women were change agents, reiterated that Ghana would be even better if it gave women roles that were prominent in politics.