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The NDC pledge to women empowerment   
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The 2010 Population and Housing Census showed that women constituted about 51 percent of the total population of Ghana and are mostly victims of all the unpleasant situations that human beings find themselves as compared to men.

Women issues over the years have assumed international dimension that Gender Equality and Equity have become a global requirement for member countries of the United Nations (UN) to ensure that conventions on these matters are implemented to the full for the benefit of women empowerment.

During the last general elections, all the political parties who contested realized that leaving women’s issues out of their campaign manifestoes meant that about 51 percent of the population were not being recognized and so came out with convincing and attractive declarations on how to empower women and to deal decisively with women’s welfare.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC), led by President John Mahama, in its manifesto is not an exception of these and indicated that its key element to address gender inequality would be the amendment of the Local Government Act 1993, Act 462, to reserve 40 percent of the President’s appointees to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA) to women.

The NDC according to its manifesto has indicated that it would ensure the expeditious enactment of the Affirmative Action Act, to provide a framework for addressing historical gender related injustices as well as work with the sponsors of the Women’s Manifesto to ensure that all MMDAs mainstream gender into their programmes.
The manifesto says it would work with political parties and civil society organizations to take provisions of affirmative action act into account in sponsoring candidates for elections and enact legislation to cover women’s rights including reproductive rights more comprehensively.

The NDC is promising that it would ensure that all public institutions adopt gender policies including recruitment policies aimed at achieving a balanced human resourcing of their institutions in terms of gender and further implement the policy of gender responsive budgeting that has been adopted by the Ministry of Finance.

According to the manifesto, to accelerate the process of women’s empowerment, the NDC shall develop leadership training programmes for women, especially young women to manage public offices and exercise responsibilities at all levels.

It would also create a special fund to support the participation of women in national and district level elections while measures would be taken to increase the number of women appointees in the MMDAs.

In 2008, the NDC government promised to review the mandate of the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC), in line with national development aspirations, work towards 40 percent women in public services and at conferences and congress of the party, to introduce major gender issues in all aspects of national development and to revise, update and implement its Affirmative Action Policy for women, issued in 1999.

Under the leadership of the late President John Evans Atta Mills, between 2009 and 2012, the NDC government launched the Women in Local Governance Fund in 2010 to support women participating in local government elections, established the Domestic Violence Fund and accepted in its White Paper, proposals from the Constitution Review Commission (CRS) to improve the status of women in Ghana.

The NDC has also drafted an Affirmative Action Bill which attracted regional consultations currently being finalized by the Attorney General’s Department and has shown commitment to women’s affairs with the construction of a five-storey office building for the MOWAC.

The late President Mills on many occasions came under fire for not achieving its declaration for 40 percent of women appointees in his government despite the fact that under his watch the NDC government appointed the first female speaker of parliament and first female Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

Others are the Chairperson of the National Commission of Civic Education (NCCE), whiles women have been appointed to head various commissions and institutions including the Ghana AIDS Commission, Ghana Youth Authority (NYA), Government Statistician, whiles the Director General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and the National Insurance Commission (NIC) were retained in office.
The NDC believes that its achievements over the last four years towards women’s empowerment and recognition indicate its commitment to the women of Ghana.

It has been argued that successive governments since 1992 had expressed the commitment to women’s empowerment yet women still suffer social injustices and stereotypes that had long been an obstacle to the realization of gender equity.

Many have questioned the authenticity of party manifestoes and their link to reality.

The NDC manifesto from all indications looks good and appears to have antidote to many challenges facing women empowerment, looking at the Affirmative Action Plan, reservation of 40 percent of all appointees to women and the establishment of a fund for women wanting to go into governance.

Having won over 50 percent of the total valid votes cast in the presidential elections, the indication is that the NDC has been able to convince the voting population including women and therefore all eyes are on the NDC.

President Mahama has been formally given the go ahead to conduct business, expecting that all his appointments from the ministerial level to the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies would reflect the promise made.
Whiles acknowledging the fact that it is not easy to get the women into the high positions, it is also fair to add that the difficulty that the late President Mills faced in getting the 40 percent women appointees is not because there are no women who are equally competent to be appointed but because of the nature of political cultural barriers that had hindered the abilities of many capable women over the years.
Source: Feature by Bertha Badu-Agyei

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