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Ghanaian President Welcomes Women into Politics

Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo nominated 36 women to serve as Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) to help combat inequality in the political process in Ghana.

Prior to his presidency, President Akufo-Addo pledged to appoint more women to government positions in hopes of bringing additional women into the political process. This will allow more Ghanaian women to be represented by their own gender, giving women a chance to be part of political decision-making processes in which their voices often go unheard.

This is especially important since in the 2012 Ghana elections women won only 11 percent of the seats. This statistic is certainly influenced by the fact that only 134 of the 1,332 candidates that participated were women, but is significant because it highlights the critical importance of the president’s desire to encourage more women to engage in politics.

While these 36 nominations are a step in the right direction for women in Ghana, they also reveal the widespread inequality in the country’s political practices and attitudes.

The decision was met with “unacceptable rancor” in almost every part of the Northern Region, in which six of the 18 women were nominated. For Ghanaian women in this area it might be dangerous just to voice support for these elected women.

The Northern Sector Action on Awareness Creation (NORSAAC) worked behind the scenes, lobbying for at least six of the women’s nominations in the Northern Region. NORSAAC also expressed gratitude to the president for a “significant improvement” in the Northern Region, where there was previously only one acting female District Chief Executive.

NORSAAC highlighted the importance of the women’s nominations, stating that the nomination of women MMDCEs “would significantly contribute to overall women empowerment and increase economic opportunities for young women and their families.”

The 36 women represented 17 percent of the total number of people nominated for MMDCE positions. Though this is an improvement for Ghanaian women, more efforts will be needed to meet the president’s promise to have at least 30 percent women’s representation in public office, as detailed in his New Patriotic Party (NPP) platform.

While Ghana has a long way to go in its fight against inequality, inclusion is an important step. Including more women in the political process will allow them to take part in politics in a way that was previously impossible, working on the ground to influence both laws and attitudes. It will also prove the capabilities of women to those who don’t believe women can or should participate in politics. Ghanaian men and women will have more opportunities to see women competently performing governmental duties. Many Ghanaians who protested the president’s move will also seem less credible merely because there will be more examples of women in politics performing their job in the same competent way as their counterparts.

With these nominations and his dedication to improving the state of equality in Ghanaian politics, Akufo-Addo is setting a strong example to world leaders and reminding them that the voices of women will not be silenced.

Featured Image by David Stanley on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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