Members of Network for Women’s Rights (NET RIGHT) have commended Mrs Jean Mensa, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, for spearheading successful Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in December 2020.
They indicated that despite the numerous challenges encountered, including the uncertainties around with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Commission instituted effective and efficient structures which resulted in a number of successful initiatives including the replacement of the Voters Register. They indicated that the foundation and structures laid resulted in credible general elections.
Mrs Dorcas Coker-Appiah, spokesperson of the group, speaking during the courtesy call on Mrs Mensa, implored the EC Chairperson to continue her good works and be guided by her faith and values.
The meeting, which brought together some seven prominent women leaders, also sought to explore areas of partnership including how they could support the EC Chairperson and other females heading public institutions in the country.
Mrs Coker-Appiah said, “We know that stiff opposition you faced and its associated vilification right from when you were appointed through to the period after the 2020 General Elections.
“We assure you and other women in high public offices of our steadfast support toward making you succeed.”
Professor Takyiwaa Manuh, Professor Emerita at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, averred that women were just as competent as men to occupy public office.
She hinted at establishing a non-political institution whose mandate would be to provide a safe space, support and mentorship to women in public office.
Prof. Manuh expressed concern about the limited representation of women in the decision making positions and noted that any electoral reforms should ensure that women were offered meaningful representation. In her view meaningful representatives went beyond numbers.
She expressed concern about the current civil space that had been characterised by the demonization of personalities particularly women.
She noted that women were not above criticism, but that the criticism ought to be constructive and not limited to demonization and personality attacks. She said that sadly one could find prominent male personalities engaging in this practice.
“It is denting the democratic values and the Ghana brand,” she noted.
On her part, Mrs Hilary Gbedemah noted that even on the international front, the gains made, regarding the empowerment of women were being eroded.
She noted several international treaties and conventions aimed at promoting the rights of women had been ignored and in some cases revoked.
In her view, one sure way to ensure that women’s issues remained at the front burring national policy was by harnessing the voices of women and providing appropriate channels to enable women speak out on the key issues confronting our nation and women.
Mrs Mensa thanked the group for their support since her appointment and assured them the Commission’s commitment to work tirelessly to ensure credible, free, transparent and peaceful elections in Ghana.
“You were a source of knowledge and inspiration. Indeed some of you suggested a number of constructive proposals that during the 2020 electoral process, which were successfully implemented. Your recommendations behind the scenes helped strengthen the Commission’s work and processes,” she added.
She went on to mention that occupying high office such as the Commission could sometimes be ‘lonely’ as there were no trusted spaces to share experiences and engage with other women.
Mrs Mensa noted that women constituted more the 50% of the society, their voices were silent in key discussions and debates in the country.
She reiterated that there was a need for women to come together and to speak against ills in the society. Women should let their voices be heard.
“Women have a strong voice but unfortunately we have not used that voice effectively to speak up against the bullying and vilification of women in the society.”
Mrs Mensa further affirmed her support towards instituting initiatives to empower women to participate actively in politics.
On electoral reforms, the EC Chairperson noted that the Commission was conducting a post-election assessment with key stake holders for the purpose of further strengthening its processes.
“We are not resting on the successes of the recent elections. We are currently in the process of reflection and discussions to ensure that our electoral processes is further strengthened.”