International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also making a call to action for accelerating gender balance. It marks an annual call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. This year’s celebration is on the theme, “Balance for Better”.
The campaign theme provides a unified direction to guide and galvanize continuous collective action, with “Balance for Better” activities reinforced and amplified all year round. As the Women’s Wing of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the United States, we want to use this opportunity to advocate for a “Gender-Balanced Government.”
Women constitute more than half of Ghana’s population (51.2%), and without their participation in the public discourse or decision-making process, it would be difficult for Ghana to achieve sustainable development. Unfortunately, their participation at all levels of decision-making is very low.
Women also do not have the required resources for political campaigns and electoral processes coupled with a public that is uninformed about women’s rights and contribution to development. We are therefore calling on the government to ensure women’s full and effective participation in governance and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
In spite of efforts by successive governments as well as civil society organizations, women’s participation in political leadership in Ghana is still very low compared to other African countries. Women are still very much at the edge of political, economic and social decisions and rely most often on decisions made by others regarding their lives.
First, women’s role in decision-making is a key condition for women’s empowerment, with some arguing that it is a basic human right of women to participate directly in decision-making processes that affect their lives.
Second, gender parity is a critical condition for democracy, with a clear indication that both men and women consider political institutions more fair, legitimate and democratic when more women are elected. Without adequate representation in government, the realization of women’s rights is severely limited by a deficit of accountability towards women.
Third, the increased presence of women in government has a significant impact on policy agendas in that women are more likely to raise issues of equality, education, women’s relatively poor economic position, childcare, violence against women and integration of gender into the issues of employment and pay.
We believe that a gender-balanced cabinet will contribute to the shifting of social and cultural ideas of women, strengthen the idea of women as leaders, leads to greater accountability towards women, and to stronger action on policy issues that disproportionately affect women across the country.
Collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-balanced world are key in that the story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Let’s build a gender-balanced world to drive a better working world. Everyone has a part to play – all the time, everywhere.
NPP USA Women Organizer