By Iddi Muhayu-Deen
Like many others, I have, in the past couple of weeks, been following with considerable interest, the raging debate about whether or not Ghanaian women have demonstrated “enough dynamism” within the POLITICAL SPACE so as to assume their rightful place in the nation’s political space where critical decisions are made. This follows President Akufo-Addo’s recent comment at a women conference in Canada suggesting that he’s yet to see ENOUGH dynamism and activism on the part of our women within this context.
The debate had, at some point, rather regrettably, assumed an ugly spectacle, with some persons describing themselves as Gender Activists, firing incessant vitriol and acidic invectives at the person of the President, and also calling on the first gentleman of the Republic to apologize to Ghanaian women for “insulting them”, among other outlandish claims, as they would want to have us believe.
As to how a positive challenge posed by the President to women seeking to occupy political positions in order to influence decision, to exhibit ENOUGH dynamism so they could get elected into Parliament can be construed as constituting insult on women, is certainly not only mind-boggling, but also preposterous. So, we are being told it is abominable for the President to acknowledge the modest gains made in the women empowerment industry and demand of them [women] to exhibit more dynamism?
And because the President has posed this positive challenge, he should be taken to the cleaners by “Gender Activists”, who are expected to know better? What I even find most disingenuous is the many distortions created by these “Gender Activists” in respect of what the President said or did not say, and using these distortions as basis to launch boisterous attacks at the person of the President. How unfair!
First of all, contrary to the claims by our Gender Activist friends, hereinafter referred to as GA friends, the President DID NOT say Ghanaian women lack dynamism. Indeed, he acknowledged the dynamism in Ghanaian women but was quick to add that, it wasn’t enough to propel them into elective political offices like being MPs and the likes. For God’s sake, is this not a statement of fact? What at all has the President said which is so ungodly to warrant the baptism of fire being rained on him?
Well, to our GA friends, if indeed they genuinely think that the President hasn’t been factual about the state of affairs regarding women representation in political offices in Ghana, then the onus is on them to challenge the President’s assertions with superior arguments by adducing incontrovertible facts to the contrary.
They must adduce factual evidence to show that women in Ghana are indeed, owing to their dynamism, dominating in elective positions in Ghana, like the positions of MPs and political party executives. Anything short of that, should be wholly rejected by Ghanaians because, he, who, weeks equity, must do equity.
You cannot chastise the President on the basis of claims he didn’t make, and expect the Ghanaian people to lower the yardstick for critiquing your criticism of the President’s purported claims. We shall judge you by the same standard. So, you have to prove to us that there are equal or more women MPs than their male counterparts, since there are MORE WOMEN in Ghana than men (52% as against 48% in favour of women).
If, in disagreeing with the President, you claim that women have shown enough dynamism in occupying political offices [which was exactly what the President was referring to], then that “enough dynamism” must lead to results. For instance, we should, by now, be having more female MPs, more female Assembly Members, more female Presiding Members, more female Ministers, more female MMDCEs, and even female Presidents. This is what I call, THE TEST OF DYNAMISM.
Fellow Ghanaians, you and I know very well that, if we subject the women of our country to this test, the resultant outcome is most appalling and absolutely nothing to write home about. For instance, in respect of parliamentary representation, since 1960 when Ghana became a Republic till date, the highest percentage of women representation was recorded in the 2016 elections which was ONLY 13.1%.
If we were to avert our minds to the figures in the Fourth Republic, which are as follows: 1992 (8%), 1996 (9%), 2000 (9.5%), 2004 (10.8%), 2008 (8.7%), 2012 (10.9%), 2016 (13.1%). So, as can be seen clearly, 13.1% is their BEST performance. This 13% is less than even half of the 30% mark set by the United Nations. And our GA friends call this [13%] satisfactory and evidence of ENOUGH DYNAMISM of Ghanaian women? I’m sure if their children wrote exams and scored 13%, they would clap for them.
The situation is not any different at the Local Government or District Assembly Levels, and also at the Ministerial Level. This has been attributed to the number of women who avail or put themselves up for elections into political offices, which number is incredulously and unacceptably low. In the 2016 parliamentary elections for instance, out of the 1,158 parliamentary candidates, only 136 were women, representing a paltry 11.7%. Are our GA friends telling us that this 11.7% is proof of “enough dynamism” of Ghanaian women in the political space?
Dear Ghanaian women, if you don’t make yourself available for elections, how do you get to occupy elective political positions to be able to influence decision? This was exactly the mischief the President wants you to cure by encouraging you, notwithstanding the socio-cultural inhibitions, to show enough dynamism to get elected into parliament and also to be able to control political parties “which are the instruments by which our societies make decision”, as he noted.
Talking about appointments into ministerial positions, Article 78 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana mandates the President to appoint majority of his Ministers from among Members of Parliament. What it means is that even if the President wants to appoint many women to occupy ministerial positions, his hands are tight by this constitutional injunction where they are very few women in Parliament, as it is the case today.
Once again, to our GA friends, if you want to make a critique of the President, critique him on what he said. Do not create your own distortions and proceed to interrogate same under the guise of responding to Mr. President. For the avoidance of doubt, the President never spoke about dynamism in respect of market women.
He never spoke about dynamism of Ghanaian women during the struggle for independence and nationhood. He equally never spoke about dynamism of Ghanaian women in the field of academia, industry, sports and what have you. These are some of the distortions created by our GA friends and some opposition elements.
What the President did speak about, was dynamism in respect of the political space where critical decisions are made. Even with that, he never said Ghanaian women in politics lack dynamism. He only entreated them to show ENOUGH dynamism in putting themselves up for elections into Parliament and other political positions, because, as has clearly been demonstrated, the numbers are just not encouraging at all.
Why should this innocuous call by the President for positive action, for more activism and for more dynamism on the part of women to get elected into political positions become a big issue in the country, and for people calling themselves Gender Activists see same as basis to take the first gentleman of the land to the cleaners while questioning his commitment to the feminine agenda?
How can you convince me that a President [H.E. Akufo-Addo] who has spent his entire adult life fighting for human rights including the rights of women in all disciplines is not committed to the feminine agenda? How can you convince me that a President who championed the promulgation of the Domestic Violence Act 2007 (Act 732) is not committed to the feminine agenda?
How can you convince me that a President who initiated a move in his party to reserve certain safe parliamentary seats for women is not committed to the women agenda? How can you convince me that a President whose party has always had more women in Parliament than any other party in Ghana is not committed to the women agenda?
How can you convince me that a President who, owing to his commitment to the cause of women, was crowned the AU Gender Champion for 2017 is not committed to the gender or women agenda? How can you convince me that a President who attempted to make a woman his running mate is not committed to the women agenda?
How can you convince me that a President who appointed the first female Chief of Staff of the Republic; the first female Communications Minister; the first female Director of Ports; the first female Secretary to Cabinet; the youngest female Presidential Staffer; a female Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana; a female Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and a female Chief Justice, among several others, is not committed to the amplify women agenda? Just how? …
Ghanaians are not unintelligent.