Enhancing Women’s Political Fortunes in Ghana: Is a 50/50 Campaign Realistic?
The 50/50 Campaign as a tool for enhancing women’s political participation has gained currency in recent time. Its call for equal participation of women and men in politics and public office has reinvigorated various activisms globally. This paper examines the Campaign within the context of Ghanaian women’s political fortunes. Contesting its feasibility against a background of women’s poor performance at national elections and political appointments, it argues that the success stories in countries such as Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda and South Africa are inspirational. Historically, Ghana has shown some leadership in promoting women’s political participation such as the landmark People’s Representation Bill of 1960. Yet today, women are severely under-represented in Ghana’s legislature with only 37 women, forming a paltry 13.5% of the 275-member Parliament. Such persistently grave inequalities have called for more drastic initiatives as the 50/50 Campaign. Although the initiative has spread globally, Ghana has been slow to act. However, the launch of the Planet 50:50 agenda during the 2017 World’s Women’s Day signals some renewed interest. This paper provides an overview of the Campaign by highlighting its origins, intents and progress. Narrowing down on the Ghanaian context, it examines how women have fared in national elections and political appointments since the Fourth Republic. It finds that although women have done poorly in the past, thus casting doubt on the feasibility of a 50/50 Campaign, there is still great promise in light of the various commitments aimed at promoting women’s political participation. It finds that those African countries that have embraced the Campaign have made significant progress in democratic participation and thus offer useful lessons for Ghana. It concludes that like such countries, Ghana can benefit from the Campaign but only if it renews its commitments and pursues a rigorous action agenda backed with resources.
Keywords: 50/50 Campaign, Women in Politics, Gender Parity, Affirmative Action, Democracy