Government has been urged to, as a matter of urgency, implement affirmative action using the quota system to get a critical minority of 30-40 % of women representation both in the District Assembly and Parliament.
Mrs. Mawusi Nudekor Awity, the Executive Director of Network of Women in Growth (NEWIG), emphasized that affirmative action, which is a temporal measure to address the low representation of women in politics, is the only way out.
"We of the Women's Manifesto Coalition believe that in order to fast track this process, the use of the quota system to propel the agenda of at least a minority of 30-40% in politics is critical".
Mrs. Awity, who is also a member of the Women's Manifesto Coalition (WMC), made this statement at a press conference in Accra organized by WMC in collaboration with Abantu for development. It was under the theme "The Use of Affirmative Action Policy for Increased Women's Participation".
She disclosed that some African countries practice the quota system by reserving a certain number of seats for women in political parties and some levels of government. The countries include Burkina Faso, Uganda, South Africa, Mozambique and Rwanda which tops the list with 45 women out of 80 parliamentarians.
She questioned the possibility of ensuring and maintaining women's visibility in politics and decision making without such a policy, adding that, that was why the coalition believed in the use of affirmative action.
The Women's Manifesto for Ghana was initiated by ABANTU for development in 2004.Women, irrespective of political background, made demands on all political parties and government to promote affirmative action by progressively increasing the number of women in governance and party executives and decision making structures.
Often times the quota system has been criticized. Opponents claim it is associated with some challenges such as being against the principle of equal opportunity for all, which is discriminatory. Others also argue the system is undemocratic, because voters should be able to decide who to elect as their leader.
Mrs. Awity however maintained that the advantages far out-weigh the disadvantages. She mentioned that quotas reduce the actual barriers that prevent women from their fair share of the political seats; their right to equal representation and participation in politics, experiences of women's political life shared and the presentation of a platform that allows women to battle for equality.
In 1960, the first affirmative action policy in Ghana was legislated by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. This policy ensured that 10 women were elected to parliament but it was not continued by subsequent governments.
Nonetheless, Mrs. Awity commended both past and previous governments for implementing other affirmative actions such as the school feeding programme, capitation grant, free medical care for pregnant women and the initiative instituted by higher educational institutions to give preference to female applicants.
She also entreated government to walk their talk and ensure that women formed a considerable number in the forthcoming 2010 district elections and the 2012 parliamentary elections.