Negative stereotype hindering women’s chance at winning political seats – Report

A new research study has revealed that negative stereotype and perception about women are the major contributory factors to the poor performance of women in district level elections.

The study, launched in Accra on Thursday indicated that, most people, particularly, in the three northern regions, perceived women as poor performers, inefficient and incompetent when elected into political office as compared to their male counterparts.

Ineffective campaigning strategies, lack of financial support and low educational levels of women were also identified as major setbacks in women’s leadership, hence their poor performance.

The research, jointly commissioned by the Northern Sector Advocacy Awareness Centre (NORSAAC), Community Development and Advocacy Centre (CODAC) and IBIS Ghana, was undertaken in 2011 by Madam Esther Ekua Amaoko and Dr Samuel A. Donkor, both Senior Lecturers, University of Development Studies, Tamale.

It was to investigate the “Performances of Women Candidates in the 2010 District Level Elections” in the three northern regions namely, the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions of Ghana. Some of the districts where the study was conducted are Yendi and Tamale districts, Wa West and Nadowli districts as well as Builsa and Garu-Tempani districts.

Presenting the findings, Dr Donkor said the poorly organized 2010 district level elections held in Ghana was characterized with several postponements and also accounted for poor performances of women in the elections since it called for extra moneys to be mobilized by the candidates to campaign.

He explained that both qualitative and quantitative data were collected from target groups who were the electorates, candidates, especially women and the NGOs and Civil Society Organizations.

On the whole, 38.2 per cent of the electorates voted for women while 61.8 per cent voted for men.

He said some women candidates also lost the elections because the electorates said they (Women candidates) were not married. Others were also rejected based on tradition and religion, explaining that, most of the respondents said women were not supposed to lead communities.

Dr Donkor said despite the setbacks that hindered women from being elected, the electorates “would want to vote for women because they now realise that it was a necessary condition for the substantive representation of women in decision making at the local level.

Women candidate will however, need to prove beyond doubts that they can take up public leadership roles and succeed”.

Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah, Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs commended the report and said the issues that arose did not only reflect the northern part of Ghana but the Southern part as well, since women who aspire to political positions also faced similar challenges down south.

She said her Ministry had taken various steps including the Affirmative Action to ensure that women are given the opportunity to be either elected or appointed into leadership positions.

She said much education and sensitization needs to be done in the communities for the local people to accept capable and competent women and vote for them to occupy positions.

Mrs Azumah-Mensah asked political parties to nurture the will of creating opportunities for more women  to win and occupy top positions in their parties, saying, this would help build the confidence of women to contest Parliamentary seats and other higher positions so they could play their roles effectively.

Source: GNA

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