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Inspiring Inclusion: ActionAid Ghana Backs Women In Politics

Inspiring Inclusion: ActionAid Ghana Backs Women In Politics

Women's voices in Ghanaian society have been the backbone of community strength and resilience. However, their journey in the political landscape has mostly been met with both formal and informal barriers. These voices have mostly been quiet, while their contributions are undervalued in an environment where voices vie for attention and power. Amidst the struggle against traditional gender roles and societal expectations, however, Ghanaian women are stepping into the political arena as beacons of hope and change-makers reshaping the governance landscape and inspiring inclusion. ActionAid Ghana stands tall as one such champion, actively supporting and advocating for the participation of women in politics.

It is essential to reflect on the challenges women in the political landscape face as the expiration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approaches. Culture, tradition, and religion are the fundamental limitations persistently limiting women's meaningful participation. History, however, reveals remarkable contributions by women, shaping political landscapes from pre-colonial times to the present in Africa.

The 2021 Global Gender Gap Index by Afrobarometer ranked Ghana 117th out of 156 countries – 23rd in sub-Saharan Africa – on its progress (World Economic Forum, 2021). The 8th parliament Ghana, with a total membership of 275 representatives, is only made up of 14% (37 ) women, while the local governance elections at the district assembly have always produced less than 5% women representation. Ghana is, therefore, performing far below the benchmark of 30% and 40% for the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU), respectively.

In 2024, Africa celebrated a one-percentage-point increase in women’s representation in the African Parliament—from 24% in 2021 to 25%. This achievement, revealed by the International IDEA Women’s Political Participation in Africa Barometer, signifies progress. However, we must move beyond superficial celebrations. Women’s roles in political development deserve recognition and appreciation.

Ghana is witnessing a remarkable shift in its political landscape, this is because women across the country are challenging stereotypes and breaking barriers as they assert their presence, capabilities and leadership in politics. From grassroots activism to parliamentary positions, Ghanaian women are making their mark, driving change, and advocating for a more inclusive and equitable society.

A good example is the election of 7 women (2 district assembly and 5-unit committee & zonal council) out of the 45 women supported by AAG and its partner NOCID. ActionAid Ghana supported these women in the Volta region through series of capacity building which unleashed their capacities for political participation program. This initiative ensured inclusion and participation in local government elections. One among the 45 women is Hon. Annetu Asimiew Yusif an assembly representative for the Zongo Estate Electoral Area who also doubles as  a trader in the New Zongo community of the Kadjebi district in the Oti region. Through the empowerment programmes of ActionAid and NOCID, the 48-year-old has been successfully voted as the Assembly woman deferring all odds.

I want to thank Almighty Allah for giving me this victory in this keen contest and ActionAid and NOCID for their support, which has contributed immensely to my victory in the just-ended 2023 district-level elections. I attended several capacity-building workshops organized by ActionAid that built my confidence, empowering me to stand up to my opponents, who were males. My electoral area is highly traditional, and they believe that women should not take up leadership positions; hence, it was difficult for them to accept a woman as an assembly member. However, community sensitization, urging community members to support women and persons with disabilities in local elections and educating the people in my community. This message, I believe, was accepted by the community members, and with the help of the posters and my campaign messages during the campaign, the people accepted me as their representative to the Assembly. Out of the 36 elected Assembly members, I am the only woman elected. I know I will have a lot of obstacles at the Assembly, but with the empowerment I have received from ActionAid and NOCID, I will overcome them all.  

At ActionAid, inspiring inclusion means adopting feminist strategies. 

  • Recognizing Women’s Capacities:  appreciating women’s political capacities without questioning their careers, family status, or bodies. Unlike male politicians, women often face unwarranted scrutiny. We must recognize their relevance, qualities, and capabilities as non-negotiable components of democracy.
  • Political Will and Change: Political will play a vital role in inspiring inclusion. Reviewing policies and practices ensures that they favor women’s participation. With upcoming elections across Africa, feminist approaches—such as capacity strengthening, mentoring, resource allocation, and peer learning—are essential for empowering women politicians1.

ActionAid Ghana’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment is commendable. Priorities 2 and 3 of AAG's new Country Strategic Plan (CSP) VII highlight the need for women's rights and decent work and Promote Active Citizenship and Gender Inclusive Political Participation. Further, through its initiatives, it equips women and girls with knowledge, resources, and legal mechanisms to challenge gender-based violence and participate actively in decision-making processes.

In this month of March, we celebrate the unstoppable force you are, filled with boundless potential. In the midst of the convergence of challenges, remember that your unique perspectives, dreams, and voices matter.

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day dedicated annually to celebrating the achievements of women and marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.