ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

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Women leaders can transform the political landscape in Ghana – 2024 general elections

Women’s participation in politics and their full representation in public leadership roles are imperative for the effective functioning of democratic systems and the fulfillment of sustainable development. With more women in power comes the impetus to create social and economic progress that is inclusive, equitable, and beneficial to society.

Yet across Africa, women continue to face significant hurdles that undermine their aspirations to contribute to public decision-making and the politics of their countries. Despite recent progress, women’s representation in the executive and legislative branches of government remains below the 30% benchmark set by the UN.

For women in Ghana, the path to equity in politics is steep and riddled with challenges. Representation in parliament is among the lowest globally with the 2020 general elections recording just 40 female MPs (14.5%) compared to 235 (85.4%) male MPs, while the number of women elected at the district level has steadily declined in recent years from 478 in 2006 to just 216 in 2019. Discrimination, intimidation, lack of resources, gender-based violence, and insufficient support from political parties continue to hinder the full participation of Ghanaian women at the highest echelons of political life.

The upcoming general elections in December will be an opportunity to overturn this trend. Measures and policies to encourage women to take on leadership roles and to empower them to campaign can prove transformative across the political spectrum. The period in the run-up to the elections can provide a space for the major political parties, the media, activists, and other stakeholders to take affirmative action and advocate for greater parity in representation in parliament and all public offices.

Strategies such as securing financing and other key resources for women candidates, transforming social perceptions about women in public leadership, and increasing party initiatives encouraging women’s participation are essential to help bridge the gender gap in public governance in Ghana.

Despite the recent all-male selection of presidential candidates by the major political parties, the window of opportunity is still open for Ghanaian women leaders to break down barriers and ascend to positions of power. By nominating women as their running mates, the presidential candidates can deliver on their parties’ promises and lay the groundwork for a real shift toward parity in public representation in decision-making.

In Ghana, two Amujae Leaders are running for political office in the country’s national elections. Their participation contributes to the ongoing transformation of the country’s landscape to breakdown obstacles preventing women from participating as equals—whether as voters or candidates. A current Member of Parliament for the Klottey-Korle Constituency, Amujae Leader Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, has long been advocating for change in her own constituency and hopes to continue inspiring women leaders to take the stand. A second Amujae Leader, Dr. Grace Ayensu-Danquah, will also be running for election in Essikado Ketan constituency—ensuring that disparities facing women and access to high-quality education are at the center of her campaign.

Ghana’s upcoming elections can be a substantial step toward closing the gap in women’s representation in politics and, consequently, putting the country on a path of increased growth, equity, and justice. Political parties and the electorate can play a crucial role in this transformation by paving the way for the effective representation of women in legislative and leadership roles at the local and national levels. For Ghana, this means having some tangible form of affirmative action, which evidence shows ensures decent representation of women in decision-making roles.

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