This post was originally meant to commend the New Patriotic Party’s decision not to allow men to contest the parliamentary primaries for the seats held by women. The party was attempting to increase or at least preserve the 16 seats it has in parliament that are held by women. However, pressure from supporters has forced the party to reverse the directive.
In the 5th Parliament, women made up a meagre 8% of the total MPs in the house. The last general election did not improve their representation as they still make up less than 11% of the MPs. While Rwanda, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Angola are among the top 20 countries in the world in the list of proportion of women in legislative houses, Ghana is 111th.
In this context, the now reversed directive by the leadership of the NPP was admirable. It was a step towards bridging the long standing gap between the numbers of men and women in political leadership. The reversal may be beneficial in the short-term, but as more people are educated, women may become a formidable voting demographic that votes on issues such as the political, social and economic representation of women, commitment to ending sexual violence and so on.
The NPP would do well to push through with their directive and it would be best for the NDC to emulate them or suggest their own affirmative action policy. Even if my prediction of a gender-focused voting bloc does not happen, the political parties have a moral responsibility towards fairness and inclusion.