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Where are Ghana’s women in political spaces and places?

Gender diversity reforms have propelled several OECD countries to the forefront of innovation, ethics, social responsibility, and environmental governance, among other domains.

There is compelling evidence that women bring unique perspectives and ideas to decision-making positions, while their nurturing and caring roles support economic growth and development initiatives. Thus, this article seeks to address why Africa’s political landscape continues to exclude women from top political positions.

The issue of women’s active inclusion in high-level decision-making has gained prominence in national discourse, particularly in light of recent events. Discussions intensified following Dr Mahamudu Bawumia’s release of his campaign and manifesto teams, which revealed a notable dearth of female representation. Conversations surrounding the inclusivity of women in top political positions must be thoroughly examined to drive national progress.

Establishing a foundation for meaningful female representation is a multifaceted task, yet simplicity remains pivotal for any governing body. The pivotal role women play in our society underpins many of the nation’s challenges.

Thus, it is pertinent to question how often women have been overlooked historically when entrusted with sensitive positions in human affairs. Moreover, advocating for female empowerment loses its essence if their potential remains underutilised for transformative development.

The marginalisation of women historically aligned with ancient cultural and religious doctrines that excluded them, even from decisions directly impacting their lives. With the advent of democracy and feminist emancipation, such archaic ideologies should be consigned to history. Studies examining neurocognitive scores demonstrate how appointing women to leadership roles breaks the barriers of functional fixedness, fostering diversity of thought essential for progress.

In our pursuit to strengthen Ghana’s democracy, we must draw upon best practices from advanced democracies. Affirmative action has become a contemporary feature of democracy, embraced globally to ensure women’s contributions to societal development are not hindered but nurtured. Notably, countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have made strides in promoting female representation in their cabinets, setting benchmarks for others to follow.

In the United States of America, for instance, President Joe Biden’s cabinet comprises eight (8) out of twenty-one (21) secretaries, representing thirty-eight-point one per cent (38.1%).

Currently, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain works with thirty-one per cent (31%) women in his cabinet after initial public criticisms with seven (7) out of thirty-one (31) members, representing twenty-one per cent (21%). While there could be disappointments in voting patterns, and disfavouring women, it behoves appointing authorities to consider adequate women in their appointments.

In our backyard in Africa, Rwanda has sixty-one point three per cent (61.3%) women in parliament and fifty per cent (50%) in the cabinet.

Rwanda maintains the global lead as the most gender-diverse government and it seems clear that the speed with which Rwanda has grown economically and socially is commendable. African countries could learn from Rwanda’s example.

Moreover, Namibia’s forty-six point two per cent (46.2%) of parliamentarians are women and thirty per cent (30%) also work within the cabinet. The Republic of South Africa’s parliament is made up of forty-two point seven per cent (42.7%) women and forty per cent (40%) in the cabinet.

Forty-one point eight per cent (41.8%) of Senegalese women are in their parliament while forty per cent (40%) of them are in the cabinet. Mozambique, counted among African nations doing well with women empowerment, has thirty-nine point six per cent (39.6%) women in parliamentary composition and thirty per cent (30%) in the cabinet.

However, Ghana’s performance in this regard falls short, with only 14.55% female representation in parliament and 10% in the cabinet. This discrepancy contradicts Ghana’s claim as a bastion of democracy in Africa.

Therefore, the call for a female running mate to Dr Mahamudu Bawumia is timely, given the New Patriotic Party’s wealth of experienced women poised to contribute significantly to governance and societal development.

In conclusion, promoting women’s inclusivity in Ghana’s political landscape is imperative for pragmatic development and sustainable progress. By embracing gender diversity and dismantling systemic barriers, Ghana can pave the way for a more equitable and prosperous future.

The ball, they say, is always in their court!

The writer – Dr Kweku Adams is an Associate Professor in International Business & Management at the University of Bradford School of Management.

His scholarly works on gender diversity have been published in several world-leading Journals and presented at several academic and practitioner conferences. Dr Adams is currently on the Editorial Review Boards of the Thunderbird International Business Review and the Africa Journal of Management. He is the President of the Ghana School Society, Europe.