relatives have been telling me, “try to get a man”, “try to get a man”. Mr. Speaker, if you marry a woman and you tell her to keep her maiden name, she will tell you, “I want to be called Mrs. . . . Then she will add a man's name.
Mr. Speaker, women in Sudan are fighting hard. If you go to their public offices, especially the civil service in Sudan, you will see women Directors, Chief Directors, et cetera.
What are the women in Ghana doing? We cannot fight for them; we will only support them. They should fight their fight and we shall support them. Whenever people are talking about women being at a disadvantage in Ghana, they always cite Members of Parliament and Ministers. What about the Boards and Corporations? Are they fighting for Mr. President to put them on the Boards and Corporations so that they will have equal representation there? Or is it the flamboyant representation, for everybody to know the number of women MPs or the number of women Ministers?
Mr. Speaker, I beg to support the women but they must fight hard.
Mrs. Gladys Asmah (NPP --
Takoradi): Mr. Speaker, I rise to add my voice to the Statement that has been made on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, women are born natural manageress; God created us so. We manage the home, the family and if more women come into public life, we will bring our managerial abilities in the home to help manage society. After all, Mr. Speaker, what is society? It is but an aggregate of families that women manage; and we manage very well. The result, you can see
[NII NAMOALE] here. All the men here were taken care of by their mothers and they are all here as Members of Parliament. We manage the home and we do it very, very well.
Mr. Speaker, the problem with getting more women into Parliament sometimes is the lack of support. In 2000, 98 of us contested but only 18 of us won because of lack of logistical support. Only 18 of us won. Mr. Speaker, why is it so? A lot of the support that should be given to the contestants themselves go to the NGOs for capacity-building. At the end of the day, those whose capacity are built do not come to Parliament and that training becomes a waste.
Mr. Speaker, the problems of women are many and that is why the Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2001 created a Ministry to deal with the problems of women and to solve them, knowing that we have to go to the roots of the problems to solve them, and knowing that there is the need for women to come to Parliament.
My Ministry started from the District Assembly and at the 2002 District Assemblies election, I asked for an affirmative action which is a non-partisan area. We had 30 per cent of the appointees to the District Assemblies being women. We know that we have to build our capacity. We know that women must be able to come to the House of Parliament, but they can start at the District Assembly and use it as a stepping stone to come to the House of Parliament.
We have more women in District Assemblies right now as against what was there before. And I am happy to say that our hon. Colleague who unfortunately lost her seat, hon. Mrs. Agnes Sonful was a product of the Ministry's capacity-building programme it gave to women. She became a Member of the District Assembly and she
came to Parliament.
That is what the Ministry is doing. We are building them up from the level of the District Assembly to be able to debate, know what debate is about, take care of the communities so that at the end of the day, the electorate would look at the work in the community and vote for them.
Mr. Speaker, in the 2004 elections, again 98 of us contested and I am happy to say that 25 of us are here; a very big step we have taken. The next time round we will be 40, 50 and it will continue. It is not an event, it is a process we are going through; and that is what we are doing now.
But, Mr. Speaker, what we have to look at is the support that goes to the non- governmental organizations (NGOs) more than the contestants themselves. That is quite a problem for women parliamentary aspirants. If the support which is offered through the NGOs is given to the contestants themselves, they will be able to move forward; because all of us do know that politics is not a cheap game. You must have the support; you must have the wherewithal to move forward. All the support goes to the NGOs for capacity-building, which at the end of the day, invariably, comes to naught, because many of the women do not come to the House of Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to say that before the 2004 elections, I called all the women aspirants. We had a meeting at the Office of the Head of the Civil Service; we shared our thoughts on the support that we needed. We also called some donors, they came in. And I am happy to say that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the gender programme that operates from the Ministry
of Women and Children's Affairs, gave twenty thousand dollars to help us; and that amounted to ¢1.5 million to every woman aspirant. In order to make it fair, the money was given to the Electoral Commission and every woman aspirant got ¢1.5 million. That money came from the effort of the Ministry, for every woman aspirant. Mr. Speaker, we will not end there; we are going to make sure that more women come to Parliament to help all of us here to move the country forward.
At the end of the day, as I said earlier on, women manage the home. We manage the family; and what is a family? Society is nothing but a number of families put together including men, women and children. When we are here, we will be able to highlight the issues of women. Twenty- five of us are here, and I am sure that at the end of the day, more of our members will come and join us because of what we do here. If we perform, more will come.
Mr. Speaker, on that note, I am pleading with the donors who give a lot of support to the NGOs, as against the contestants, to look the other way round. If they want to help women to come to Parliament, it is the contestants that must be supported not monies going to the NGOs, eighty per cent of which goes to administrative costs, as against helping us.