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On 27 and 28 November 2010, the Akosombo Continental Hotel in Atimpoku, Ghana, hosted the launching event of “Towards increased Women’s Participation and Representation in Parliament”, a project organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs Ghana, the European Partnership for Democracy andDEMO Finland, with the support of the European Commission.
The launching workshop was attended by a number of women MPs and dynamic women leaders, including Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu, Attorney General, who gave the key note address and Hon. Mrs Julianna Azumah Mensah, Minister for Women and Children Affairs. At the conclusion of the two-day programme, representatives from women’s wings of four Ghanaian political parties adopted the Akosombo Declaration in which they laid out aims and objectives of the project.

The aim of “Increased women participation and representation in Parliament”, is to further consolidate Ghana’s democracy by ensuring gender equity and fairness in democratic representation in Parliament and making sure that there is gender balance in the governance institutions in the country and that the number and quality of women representatives in Ghana’s Legislature is significantly improved.

Women constitute 50.5% of the total national population of Ghana, but there is a gross under-representation of women in the country’s legislature, with only 19 women MPs out of 230 total seats. This under-representation constitutes a major deviation from the United Nation’s objective of at least 40% women representation in decision-making in national governance institutions (Millennium Development Goal 3 “Promote Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, Indicator 3) and the African Union’s goal of achieving parity between men and women in decision-making by 2020.

Through cooperation with all four parliamentary political parties, the project aims to increase the number of women MPs up from the present 19 out of 230 to 40-60 out of 230 in the 2012 parliamentary elections and to build the capacity and the confidence of elected women MPs after the 2012 parliamentary elections to enable them to be more visible, audible and effective in Parliament.

The launching workshop will be followed, over the next 30 months, byjoint workshops with Women’s Wings under the Ghana Political Parties Programme,established with the support of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, and women CSOs, as well as pre- and post-primaries workshops for women parliamentary candidates. There will also be a post-election capacity building workshop and mentoring programmes for women MPs. The project will lead to the publication of a women’s manualexchange programme of international best practices with women MPs from other African and European countries, and an advocacy and media campaign with a broader group of Ghanaian women organisations.

Sari Varpama, Executive Director of Demo Finland, is very pleased to be co-operating with EPD and IEA on this important effort and remarked that “democracy can only ever be functional if women are fully included and actively participate in political decision-making. We hope to enrich our collaboration by bringing in the Finnish experience as well as that of our Tanzanian partners for mutual learning”.

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