How prepared are women for politics?

By Helena Selby

The aspirants listen with rapt attention to the MP for New Juabeng South, Bernice Boateng (back to camera), during the interactive session INSET: Fulera Gariba, youngest among the aspirants

Bit by bit, education on women getting themselves into politics to help the nation is taking root, many women around the world are giving themselves a chance to help society, especially, their fellow women, through their involvement in politics. Gone were the days when women found it uncomfortable to be part in the issue of politics, but things seems to have changed now, thanks to conferences and campaigns such as the Beijing Conference.

Even though the slogan of the conference was “What a man can do, a woman can do, and even do it better,” many women, when it comes to the issues of politics, dare not to rub shoulders with the men, since according to them, men have been in the business of politics for long, and that as they are beginners, there is the need to learn from them, and when they are deeply rooted, they can stand on their own.

In Ghana, women are very much welcome in politics, even though there are very few female parliamentarians, the government sometimes complain that women do no make themselves available to occupy positions at the committee level. According to the government, women do not show much interest and that after giving the few willing ones positions, certain vacant positions which could go to women are left with no women willing to be appointed.

Women, realising this, have decided to start involving themselves in politics at the district assembly level. For many of them it is challenging, and they do not even know the strategy to use in campaigning for themselves, as the men who seem to know more, always stay ahead of them.

The good news is that after an initiative has been taken to enter into politics, according to them, what they really need now is strength, encouragement, and a helping hand, to enable them win the district assembly elections and make themselves available to occupy vacant positions which governments need women to fill, and to help to fulfill the 40% women representation in Parliament. A programme organised by the Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), was aimed at enlightening women about what politic entails and helping them to get acquainted with the political hardship and what they need to move along when the occasion calls for it. It was an interactive session with women parliamentarians and aspirants.

During the session

Telling her experience to the aspirants was Beatrice Boateng, Member of Parliament (MP) for New Juabeng South, who made them aware that being a politician was not a difficult task at all. Some of the aspirants complained of sometimes being looked down upon by the community when they make public their intentions to get involved in the district assembly elections. However, Madam Boateng made them aware that it was part of the profession.

According to her, it was a good thing that these women had finally thought it wise to involve themselves in politics at that level, as women seem to know more about the needs of the community than men. She said, as women spend most of their time in places such as the markets, schools and even hospitals, they know more about what makes live unbearable in their various communities.

She further said politics was about knowing the needs of the community, and since they knew to a greater extent what the community needs, they had a greater advantage over men they are competing with.

Narrating her ordeal in politics to them, she disclosed that she got interested in politics at the age of 16, as since her father was a politician, she went to political campaign trips with him on several occasion. However she almost lost interest when her father was jailed as a result of politics, but didn’t lose heart. She said the political world was full of very unpleasant situations, and that one would always go through mockery and insults, but the best tool to have is patience, love and determination.

Despite the way one is being treated, she said, it was important to get to closer to the people and get to know them better. She urged them never to at any point show signs of disrespect or insolence to the people, as no community will be willing to have a leader who has no respect for them, and advised them to exhibit the trait of selflessness, by being more generous, as politics is about helping the people come out of their economic misery, and not focusing on oneself.

Encouraging the aspirants, she advised that it was not a wise idea to lose hope when one loses the first term of elections, as it will be considered cowardly. According to her, she lost elections several times, but did lose hope until finally she won. She advised them to desist from politics of insults, as it makes one lose respect before the people, since it might result in them losing the support of the people, as people want their leaders to have self-respect in order for them to respect them as well.

She further cautioned them never to make any kinds of promises during campaigns, as it turns the people against the aspirant when she is not able to fulfill them at the end of her term. It will rather be appropriate to assure the people of communicating their needs to the government, and bring them the feedback.

MP Asante Akim South

To Gifty Ohene Konadu, MP Asante Akim South, local government is the main stream of decision making, even before reaching the government. It is therefore important that the aspirants hold on tight to the initiative they had taken, since they will be able to influence the decision making process when voted into power. By so doing, they can communicate easily the needs of the people to the government.

She advised them to learn to associate themselves with influential people who can send their messages across. She said there was the need to be strategic, and act as a service-oriented person, and not as a pathetic person who has no money to even support an individual in the community, adding that it is important to help the people for them to rest assured about what they will achieve when they vote for the aspirant in question.
Youngest aspiring candidate

Fulera Gariba is the youngest aspirant standing for the elections at the district assembly level at the Komenda in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem District. She is 21 years old, and has lived in her community for almost 18 years. To her, she had no intention of getting involved in the district assembly elections, but the community in which she lives in encouraged her, and made her aware that she fit the position.

According to her, considering the activities she has involved herself in to help the community, the community deemed it wise to vote for her to send their message across. She is also a member of the Muslim Girls Association, which is meant to promote girl child education among the Muslim community, and she is as well a Secretary of coalition of women in WILDAF. She said, apart from the support she gets from her parents and the community, she also has the support and encouragement of the mosque committee, and that she was emphatic that she could win the election in her district.

Conclusion

The involvement of women in governance at the district level is a stepping stone towards development in the various communities. It will enable the government to be a lot more abreast with the issues at the community level. Moreover, it is a good thing that female parliamentarians and WILDAF have taken it upon themselves to help women who decided to involve themselves in politics. It will give them confidence and hope towards achieving better results in their involvement in politics.

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