Participation of Women in Local Governance in Ghana

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Globally, women form half of the human population yet in terms of governance, there is a general trend of under representation of their quantitative and qualitative participation at all levels of governance. The process of governance apparently has become the preserve of men. The goal of this study is to enhance the participation of women in local governance in Ghana. It focused on two districts; Kumasi Metropolitan and Ejura-Sekyedumase districts. The methods of investigation were the use of both primary and secondary data. The primary data was obtained from questionnaires, discussion and participant observation. Secondary data were obtained from documents, journals, books, newspapers and the internet. The study revealed that women were underrepresented in terms of quantity in the two districts. Another revelation was the fact that numerous obstacles such as religion, and other cultural practices as well as the multiple roles of women, impede the participation of women in local governance. However, the extents to which these obstacles impede their participation vary from one district to the other and have socio-cultural undertones. Among the major findings of the study is the low level of education of women involved in the functional obligations of the district assemblies. Seventy percent of women respondents of the two districts studied ate Middle School Leaving Certificate holders; all the five Assemblywomen at KMA were found to be involved in commercial activities while in Ejura, only two were into commerce. With the remaining three, two are civil servants and one is the District Chief Executive. Generally the breadth and depth of women’s participation in communal activities in the two districts are low. However, the extent of participation of the women in the proceedings of assemblies is considered to be high. Women who are currently involved in the work of the district assemblies are between the ages of thirty and sixty-five years. In spite of various efforts made by international bodies, such as United Nations, civil society organizations including women’s groups such International Federation of Women Lawyers and religious organizations such as Christian Mothers Association, the problem of women’s under representation in local governance persists. This therefore calls for a new approach to the solution of this problem, hence the need for all stakeholders to consider the recommendations made in this study, which will help to enhance the participation of women in local governance in Ghana. This is necessary since women’s contributions to family livelihoods are very crucial and their leadership in community work fosters democratic participation. Their participation in the decision making process is therefore basic in achieving the principle of inclusion. Skills that women use in daily activities like settling disputes among children, securing and distributing food, organising a household lead to qualities essential for successful leadership .based on the principles of participation and inclusion at the local level.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Science degree in Development Policy and Planning, 2002