place contested for by women; we need to do that. But right now, we have the problem of the District Assembly and the challenges are even greater there. There, it is not based on Party, so you cannot even ask the Parties to ensure that we have gender parity. Once it is non-partisan, it becomes more fluid and individuals who want to stand for office would be allowed to campaign.
So how do we do it? Yes, as Members of Parliament, we might want to get suitable candidates who are ladies or women and try to finance them. But I do not know how successful that would be.
Mr Speaker, His Excellency the President has promised 40 per cent and we know that he has not been able to achieve that because of the conditions that we have in this country. So let us legislate on it and ensure that at the various levels, we have that.
Even the 30 per cent appointees that we have, we have not been able to achieve any gender parity there because you go and consult the traditional authorities or various interest groups and, the people they propose, most of the time are men. But I think that we need to consciously work at it and let us legislate on it and that is the only way we can achieve that. It would be right to do so, Mr Speaker, because women are the majority and strictly speaking, how can we have a system that does not represent the Majority? So we have to look at it in that way.
There is also the issue of the fact that women play a very important role in our day-to-day lives and the economic development of a country. Mr Speaker, I am one of those who believe that -- if we look at the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -- if we achieve Goal 3,
which is on the empowerment of women, it would be easy for us to achieve the other goals and I am not the first to say that.
I am sure the illustrious son of Ghana, Dr Kwegyir Aggrey, has said it long time ago, that when you educate a man, you educate an individual but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation. And I believe that - [Interruption.] Today is his birthday? I have just been told that today is his birthday. If that is the case, I think that it is just opportune that we are - [Interruption] - 135th Birthday of Dr Aggrey. And I do not know why it is taking us so long in Ghana to respond to that saying.
Indeed, when we go to the Pan -African Parliament now, we sit down and Rwanda has overtaken us in that direction. Senegal has also passed a law to achieve that. I think it is now time for us to work on a legislation to enforce parity of gender representation at various levels and if we do so, I am sure we would receive a lot of results.
Mr Speaker, I can speak of an
experience when I was privileged to be Regional Minister for the Upper West Region, where we sought to bring down the under-five mortality which was in 2005, 208 per 1,000 live births to 104 per 1,000 live births by December 2008 and we targeted the women. We made the women central to the programmes. So we got United Nations Children's Education Fund (UNICEF) which assisted with US $1.6 million and Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), which assisted us with US $1.4 million.
We were able to bring it down -- even though I left the region but it came down from 208 to 113 by December. I say so because most of the times, when you are talking of under-five mortality and maternal mortality, women are central but if you go to meetings on these subjects,
you would find out that women are barely represented. So when we made women central, we made traditional birth attendants the centre of it, and we worked on it and we got results.
So I can vouch that when we do empower our women, when we do ensure parity at the various levels, the development of Ghana would be faster and easier.
I would like to again thank the Hon Member who made the Statement but now to say that we need to move towards legislation to ensure gender parity at the various levels in this country.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo (NDC
- Wa Central): Mr Speaker, I would like to also thank the Hon Member who made the Statement for bringing up this issue about gender and our decentralized systems of election in which we want to see women participate at that low level of decision- making effectively to ensure that development takes place at the lower levels with the inclusion of all sexes and all our disadvantaged groups in the society.
Mr Speaker, there is often an erroneous
impression that any time we talk about gender, we are talking about women. It is also about advocating equity; about the disadvantaged in society; about children; about the weak; about the poor and ensuring that all these people are brought in line to ensure that in the course of development, they are not left behind; and in the course of development, they are given a role to play; and that in the course of decision-making, they have a say in the final output in what we want the country to look like.
Mr Speaker, the advocacy has always
been to say that we should be affirmative
in taking a decision about law-making and that we should ensure that in that affirmative action, we pass laws to ensure women representation is equal to men. It is a very sensitive area and in my view, I think that we either have to take a decision -- either to say we permanently consign the woman to the second place and we will make a law to bring her up or we take a firm decision to ensure that in all the things we do, in educating them, in human resource development, in promoting them and all aspects of our lives, we allow them to compete equally with men. This is because we would have strengthened and empowered them, rather than to say, “Let us leave them at the background there; let us ensure that they are not developed to the extent that they can compete and let us make laws to protect them.”
Mr Speaker, that might not be accurate. I may be contradicting myself if I say so but it is important for us to take note that in advocating for women, the most critical issue about it is to ensure that in the provision of education, in the provision of job opportunities, we see them as equal partners and we grade them because of their capacity and capabilities rather than the sex.
If we are able to do that we would strengthen them to stand up in election time to compete, to be able to finance their own elections and to contest elections and win elections. Many of our gallant women who are sitting here today have done that; they beat men at primaries and they are capable because they have the wherewithal; they have good education and they have good capacity to analyse the system and to be able to produce results.
Mr Speaker, in terms of our decision-
making at the lower levels, I believe strongly that the woman has a role to play because women take care of the