Relevance of women's participation in local governance: case study of Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly

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"Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development" according to Kofi A. Annan, the former UN Secretary General (UNDP, 2002 pp.3). Good governance could only be achieved when the component of participation is effectively upheld along with other tenets. Involvement of women in the local government institutions has been viewed as inevitable for ensuring responsive and equitable development of the local communities. Decades after the integration of women in local governance however, it is envisaged that the emphasis is moved towards marking efficiency and relevance rather than mere numbers of female representation. In that regards, the study was initiated to assess the contributions of the assembly women in the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) under the local government system of Ghana, in promoting the welfare of the local people. In 2006, women represented only about 9 per cent of the 86 - member Assembly of the KMA. Yet, specific achievements and gains could be attributed to their participation. These included the facilitating roles played to ensure regular clearance of heaped refuse dumps; provision of new public toilet facilities; improved street lighting system for better night security; making of small loans accessible to some women's groups among other things. It was observed however that certain projects were carried out like the rehabilitation of town roads and construction of drains which did not really reflect expectations of the local people. The study established that, low educational achievement; low competence and leadership skills; low self-esteem; lack of allocations for assembly members; among others constrain the performance of assembly women in the Metropolis. Existence of these challenges contributed to render the assembly women less efficient in their performance as local representatives. Calling for remedial actions therefore, the study proposed specific actions on three major areas of intervention, namely, capacity building and empowerment of assembly women; mass education and re- sensitization of the communities on local governance and women's involvement issues; and institutional and legal reforms. In its final submission, the study identified the need for gradation of the present advocacy strategies to include projection of specific women's achievements and outputs. Against that background, the study recommended the adoption of an 'integrated - performance - based approach' to gender advocacy.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science (Development Planning and Management)