Women in Law and Development in Africa, WiLDAF Ghana has observed with grave concern pockets of violence associated with the biometric registration exercise. In particular, we condemn the assault on Ursula Owusu, parliamentary aspirant for the Ablekuma South Constituency.
The acts of violence occurring during this registration period may have far reaching implications on the outcome of the general elections. It can lead to reduced number of registered voters and eventual turn out of voters on voting day. Additionally, acts of violence that precede an election tend to put fear in people who may decide to stay away from electing representatives for the presidency and parliament. More worrying is the fact that violence negatively affects the participation of women who are already disadvantaged in terms of participation in the elections processes and representation in politics.
Over the years, WiLDAF’s work has focused among other things on creating safe spaces for women’s increased participation in democratic processes and structures at all levels. Already, Ghana is far behind in achieving gender equality in representation and participation in government. The current 19 female Parliamentarians represent an abysmal 8.3% of the 230 members of Parliament. The story is not different at the district assembly level where only 412 women as against 5681 men were elected in 2010.
To satisfy our international gender equality commitments means attaining a minimum of 30% female representation in government. With the present number of parliamentarians, there should be 80 women MPs to get the 30% threshold; and 100 women MPs for the future 251 constituencies. Unfortunately, available statistics for female parliamentary aspirants for the 2012 elections is not promising. While the NDC has produced 12 women and the NPP 24 women, the number of aspirants for CPP, PNC and PNC are yet to be compiled. Out of 103 women who contested in 2008, only 20 were elected. If the number of women contesting the 2012 elections does not increase, the country risks not attaining Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals, which aims at Promoting Gender Equality and Empowering Women.
It is for these reasons that violence during the biometric registration process should cease. WiLDAF Ghana calls on the State’s security agencies, as a matter of urgency, to address the violence during the registration exercise by ensuring justice for victims and punishment for all offenders. We further call on the Electoral Commission to put in place all the necessary measures to ensure a smooth registration process and violence-free elections for 2012.
WiLDAF Ghana is a pan African non-governmental women’s rights organization committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children.