Source: Public Agenda Ghana
Twenty-three out of the 64 women who contested the New Patriotic Party (NPP) primaries were elected as parliamentary candidates and would contest on the ticket of the NPP in the 2012 general elections.

Some women's rights advocates who called on the various parties to reduce filing fees by 50% for all female hopefuls are now happy that their call has gone down well.

Nevertheless, a governance expert has said that if the other parties, particularly the CPP and NDC do not field more women then Ghana will not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women.

Mr. Frank Wilson Bodza, Programme Officer, Governance of Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF Ghana) said it is likely that Ghana may miss the deadline if the other parties, particularly the CPP and NDC do not get more women who have the potential to win the elections to add up to the NPP numbers.

"If we get less than 80 women in Parliament we may not achieve the MDG since next year's election will be the last general elections to be held before the MDG deadline of 2015," he explained.

He noted that parties this time around have employed affirmative action. "It has never happened and it is credible. Affirmative action is not law, but helps the marginalised to come into the limelight. Accepting to implement it is very good for all of us."

He stated it was refreshing that key women who are forthcoming in politics won the primaries.

Mr. Bodza recognised that the seats of the females could not be classified as safe seats and that nobody was implementing safe seat policy in Ghana.

"We should be very careful with safe seats. There are no safe seats in this election at all although it is a good sign of greater things to come."

"We can't talk of safe seats unless we have a constituency where all parties are fielding women. Some seats were in the hands of the NPP and later changed to NDC so cannot be described as safe seats. An example is the Upper East."

However, he reasoned that places like Asokwa, Oforikro and Amansie West are all safe seats because they are all in the Ashanti Region, the stronghold of the NPP.

No female won in the NPP primaries in the Upper West and Northern Regions, while Brong Ahafo and Central Regions had a woman each.

New entrants on the block include the former Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive, Madam Patricia Appiagyei for Asokwa in the Ashanti Region, who pulled 275 votes against 140 by her rival Mr. Maxwell Kofi Jumah; Madam Frances Essiam won the Adenta seat, beating her closest rival Yaw Buabeng Asamoah by129 to 64 votes and Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo defeated Mike Oquaye Jnr, the son of the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) Prof Mike Oquaye in the Dome Kwabenya constituency. She pulled 186 votes against 124.

Dr. Gladys Norley Ashitey defeated Ibrahim Adjei, Stephen Quaye and Obed Mensah to win the Ledzokuku seat.

The incumbent Tema MP, Ms Irene Naa Torshie and Ms Betty Gorleku Quarshie for Ada were elected unopposed.

Mrs. Agnes Chigabatia, former Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, won the primaries in Builsa North, Madam Diana Aburiya Asuure, Bongo, and ã-- Madam Paulina Morton, Builsa South, all in the Upper East Region.

Ms Freda Prempeh, a media practitioner and former Assembly Member for the La-koo Electoral area of La Wireless Area in the Greater Accra Region is the only female who won the NPP primaries for Tano Northã--in the Brong Ahafo Region out of the five women who contested.

Those re-elected to contest the elections included Ms Esther Obeng Dapaah, New Abirem and Ms Gifty Klenam, Lower West Akyem. on the other hand, Vice President of FIDA International, Ms Ursula Owusu, won the Ablekuma South Constituency in Accra by beating her contender with 401 votes against 190 to become a first time contender.

The women who unfortunately lost were Ms Christine Churcher, who won the Cape Coast seat in 1996, 2000 and 2004 elections; Ms Bernice Beatrice Boateng, popularly known as BB, New Juabeng South and Elizabeth Sackey, MP for Okaikoi North.

Some advocates are sad that some women who are dynamic and forthcoming have lost their seats.

Meanwhile, implementing partners of the 'We Know Politics Project', namely, WiLDAF Ghana, Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre (Gender Centre), International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and The Hunger Project are hoping that women in other political parties will take advantage of such an opportunity. They have thus commended the NPP, NDC and CPP for the affirmative action decision.

A media release by the implementing partners stated, "It is within this same spirit of creating an enabling environment for women that the call is made to delegates at upcoming primaries, of political parties, to vote for women contestants. This will be one of the first steps towards facilitating an improved representation of women in Parliament beyond the current number of 19 out of a total of 230 Parliamentarians."

The group believes the delegates voting for women will not only be making history but will be fulfilling their obligations and commitments to Gender Equality on political participation and representations.

One key commitment is the 'Akosombo Declaration for Gender Equality by Political Parties', made in a communiqué agreed between the Institute of Economic Affairs and four political parties with representation in Parliament on June 30, 2009 at Akosombo in the Eastern Region.

It contained the Parties' commitment to ensuring among others, at least 30% representation of women in their executive structures.

Also, it will ultimately reflect the nation's commitments to internationally ratified conventions and treaties such as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa in 2007 and African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in 2004 and the Beijing Platform for Action if they elect more women at parliamentary primaries to contest the 2012 elections. It will further boost Ghana's effort at achieving the MDGs Goal 3 target of at least 30% representation of women in politics and governance.


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