The Chairman of Parliament’s Local Government Committee, Kennedy Agyapong, has said any attempt to implement a quota system to enhance women representation in Parliament may not work.
“We talk of women representation. Nobody has a problem with their representation but everywhere in the world, politics is so rough and dirty but most of our women don’t have the courage to contest. So whether its 30% or not, I disagree because it is a free-range, anybody can contest. Nobody has stopped a woman from contesting but when they make an attempt and they see that the terrain is rough many of them back off,” he said.
Kennedy Agyapong made the remark at an engagement between the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and the Core Leadership of the House held on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
There have been much efforts over the years to ensure gender equality in all spheres of society globally. These efforts have however come with setbacks.
In Ghana, there is an Affirmative Action Bill currently in Parliament with the aim of checking gender disparity.
When passed, the Bill will among other things increase the participation of women in key decision-making roles. It provides for about 40 percent representation and participation of women in governance, public positions of power and decision making.
The Affirmative Action Bill has suffered a number of setbacks for about 10 years now.
Out of 275 Members in the Parliament of Ghana, only 36 are women, representing a marginal 13.8 percent of the total number of MPs.
At the parliamentary engagement, the Assin Central legislator who said women can’t be forced into politics and leadership positions beyond their will instead said there should be seminars to encourage women to show more desire and contest in parliamentary elections.
“The 30% that they want to impose on us, well they can implement that law. We are a sovereign country so the mere fact that they take that decision doesn’t mean we have to follow. We have to open up and there is no restriction for anyone so why are they forcing us with that 30%. If the person doesn’t want to do it [go into politics] then you go and force her, and tell her that we want 30% representation so go and contest and we impose you there, it won’t work.,” he said.
“We should rather encourage the women because its an encouragement but not force that you want 30%,” Kennedy Agyapong urged.
Speaker of Parliament Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye had earlier called for the passage of a National Affirmative Action law to correct the gender disparity in society.
According to him, although Article 17 (1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution provides for equal rights among all, the reality is different.
“The UN charter indicates that all persons must be treated equally yet what do we see today even in the face of modern development? There is no equality,” he said in a Citi News interview in December 2019 after a public lecture series at the University of Education, Winneba to commemorate the International Human Rights Day.
“In countries like Tanzania, Burundi, Malawi, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Namibia, Mauritius and Rwanda, women have been given a place of pride in the legislature and in local governance and we have to do same since Ghana is beaten to the very bottom of the global order,” he noted.