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‘Women’s Involvement in Politics can Enhance Peaceful Polls’   
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A senior Fellow of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Kwesi Jonah, has stated that the involvement of more women in politics can enhance peaceful elections at the various levels.

“Women don’t normally fight so if you have many women candidates, there is no way election can be anything, but peaceful,” he said.


At a policy dialogue organised by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Dr Jonah said, “If we want to move forward on this continent, this is one of the things we should be pushing.”


The dialogue was on the topic,“The forthcoming elections in West African countries: A critical look at the opportunities and challenges ahead.”


Model parliament


Dr Jonah cited the Rwandan Parliament as a model one where there were more women parliamentarians than men, adding, “I feel very ashamed that Ghana, which was the first country to become independent in sub-Saharan Africa, still cannot compete with countries like Rwanda and even South Africa, which have more women in decision making positions.”


Reacting to an earlier call by one of the panellists that women were less likely to be corrupt and must be made to run elections, he said women should not only run elections, they should contest elections, win and go ahead to manage the affairs of the country.


Women should contest


He said the suggestion that women should run elections was good, “but we should also try as much as we can to ensure that we increase the proportion of women in our political institutions such as the legislature.”


Dr Jonah conceded that there were a number of women organisations in the country that were doing good work in that area, and expressed the belief that such women had not received the kind of financial and moral support needed to carry out such work.


Touching on free, fair, peaceful and credible elections, he said elections were a process, “so, if we really want to make an impact on peaceful elections in the sub-region, we should start early.”


Electoral education


For her contribution, a participant, Mrs Eunice Akweley-Roberts, suggested that public education on elections should be handled by the Electoral Commission (EC) itself and not by the National Commission on Civil Education (NCCE).


“Some argue that it should be the responsibility of the NCCE, but the EC knows its work better and so it is in a better position to educate the masses on it,” she said.


Mrs Akweley-Roberts contended that considering the ongoing education on the district-level elections, “I think that there is more that can be done,” to inform the electorate about the district assembly and unit committee polls.


Tension during elections


The Executive Director of WACSI, Nana Afadzinu, while welcoming the participants, expressed surprise that there was always tension anytime there was an election in any West African country.


She said this year, for instance, there would be general elections in Nigeria, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Guinea, as well as Ghana’s district-level elections and Mali’s municipal elections.


 The participants called on civil society organisations to move to the grassroots to educate the electorate and not stay in the cities.


Electoral financing


On financing of elections, the participants deplored the attitude of the over-reliance of African governments on donor support to conduct elections.


They believed that the election itself was an expression of a country’s sovereignty, adding, “If we are going around with cap in hand asking development partners to finance our elections for us, it is not going to work.”



Source: Daily Graphic

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