Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF Ghana) and its partners congratulate the 29 women elected into the next Parliament. Your victory is a victory for women of Ghana. You have fought a good fight demonstrating your capacities as contenders for constituencies, some of which were literally ‘no go’ areas for women. Some of you emerged victors against male contenders, as well as female contenders.
We note that your victory slightly changes the scope of political participation at the national level. First, you have demonstrated to Ghanaians and the world that it is possible to increase the number of females in the legislature. Second, you have shown that politics is gradually losing its title as a ‘man’s game’. Third, you are role models for women and girls who aspire to be in leadership positions.
While we celebrate your victory, we also note that you are only 10.5% of a 275 Parliament. Your voices will be drowned if you don’t shout loud enough! The issues you are passionate about may not be discussed if you don’t make those issues central to discussions! You may not be called by the Speaker if you don’t stand out among your peers, with your submissions on issues. There may be times that you may be tempted to ignore the ‘female factor’ for your party’s interest. And there may be times that you will be ostracised because there are simply too many men you must negotiate with.
But in all of the seemingly challenging times ahead of your four-year tenure, we urge you to remember the following Don’ts:
- Do not forget that you are representing 51.4% of the population
- Do not ignore your biggest constituency – women
- Do not become ‘untouchable and un-approachable’ because this is the one criticism citizens level against elected representatives
- Do not ignore the women’s rights organisations, even if all we can offer are capacity building and advocacy
- Do not lose those female attributes which society values
- Do not ignore your constituents for they will ‘show you’ at the next elections
- Watch your language – as Publius said “I have never regretted my silence as much as I have regretted my words”
- Do not be intimidated by the men because some may make reference to your gender roles forgetting that you are peers.
And here are a few Dos:
- Demonstrate your commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment by ensuring all discussions in Parliament are from these perspectives
- Request information from women’s rights organisations to support your work
- Befriend the media – it is the overt medium through which your constituents and the people of Ghana judge your performance
- Be issues- based and objective as much as you can
- Be bold, be assertive, be confident
- Be different, bringing panache to your representation in terms of your language and your demeanour.
Signed: Frank Wilson Bodza
Programme Manager for Governance (WiLDAF Ghana)
020 9211 931 / 0302 768 349
On behalf of: WiLDAF Ghana, FIDA Ghana, Gender Centre, The Hunger Project
Dated: 10th December, 2012