‘Manels’: Aya Institute demands gender-balanced panels in nat’l discourse

The Aya Institute for Women, Politics and Media has extended to all Ghanaian women in the country and in the diaspora, sisterly felicitations on International Women’s Day 2022.

“We appreciate and recognise women’s relentless and immense contributions to our national development despite the challenges we continue to face in achieving a gender-balanced society.”

In 2019 and 2020, ExxonMobil and the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) supported the Aya Institute’s work on creating a database of African women experts to curb underrepresentation of female voices, experiences and expertise on panels and across all platforms.

“We have mostly heard from politicians, media, conference organisers and corporate organisations the mantra ‘We can’t find the women’ which is not only a convenient excuse for not trying hard but also a lack of appreciation of the abiding barriers in valuing female talent and authority voices.

In over 150 programme fliers on subjects of national interests in the media and at conferences monitored by the Aya Institute between September to December 2021, only three programmes had female representation.

“This is not encouraging enough and we urge the media, conference organisers and corporate institutions to commit in this year to breaking the bias on ‘manels’ where there is excess male representation at the expense of female voices.”

Data from our Gender Baseline Study (as of 2019) indicate that gender composition of political show hosts is unfavorable; out of five prominent media sampled, only one had a female host.

“Creating a database of female experts and people with experience is one sure way to project women,” the Aya Institute recommended.

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It recognised the reasons why some women have refrained from engaging in national discourses, especially the kind witnessed in Ghana.

The Institute claims they are mainly masculinised.

“This has been compounded by cultural and social barriers to women’s expression as well as examples of terrible experiences of intimidation, bullying and misrepresentation.”

While encouraging the media and other organisations to empanel more women, the Institute is equally asking that a conducive environment is fostered where sensationalism is minimised for facts to encourage more female professional participation.

“Not only is female participation in all spheres a democratic right, we are also ensuring that women’s talents are fully utilised to the benefit of our developing nation.

“While acknowledging the challenges with empanelling women in the media, the true test of our commitment in ensuring a gender balanced society will be the extra work we put in to challenge ourselves that it is possible at all times to include women.”

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Aya Institute called on conference organisers, public sector, corporate institutions and the media to audit their programmes, recruitment and leadership development to include women to ensure a gender-equal society for us all.

Source: 3news.com|Ghana