Twenty-nine-year-old Zainab Alhassan is seeking to make history as the first lady to ever contest the district level election in the Kokote electoral area in the Ashanti Region.
Competing against three men, she hopes on improving the current state of the Kokote Market and helping to curtail teenage pregnancy in her area.
Anita Serwaa Adzoga puts a spotlight on female participation in local governance ahead of the upcoming local election elections on December 19.
Equal representation and participation of men and women in decision-making is a precondition for improved functioning of a democratic society. However, women continue to be under-represented in the political and economic decision-making processes in Ghana.
Ghana’s 1992 Constitution guarantees women’s political rights, but there remains a paucity of female representation in governance and many public office spaces.
The number of women in Ghana’s leadership has increased marginally over time, yet it remains low.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an international body that has been reporting on women in parliament, as of March 2022 only 26.1% of all national parliamentarians globally were women. This represents a low increase compared to the UN benchmarks set at 30% female representation in decision-making positions.
In Ghana, the situation is no different.
In 2012, there were 29 (11%) females and 246 (89%) males among the 275 Members of Parliament.
After the 2016 general elections, Ghana’s Parliament recorded 35 (13%) female MPs and 240 (87%) male MPs out of the 275 Members of Parliament, while the 2020 general elections recorded 40 female MPs (14.5%) and 235 (85.4%) male MPs.
The situation at the local assembly level is even worse, signifying a decline.
Zainab Alhassan reveals some of the challenges she has faced when she decided to contest the district level election.
“It was a mixed reaction when I decided to contest for the elections
You can’t aspire for any political position and not expect the other side to come at you
I’ve had people tell me that, oh, you’re a woman, go and concentrate on marriage
People actually came to my father to tell him to ask me to step down
And I believe it’s because they think I am a woman
Because we have four other men contesting, why are you not asking any of them to step down?,”she bemoaned.
Teenage pregnancy and poor sanitation at the Kokote electoral area have been major challenges in the area.
Zainab wants to lead the crusade to tackle the menace if elected as assembly member.
“I will be the best person to lead my people to get the things that we deserve as Ghanaians
Currently, I work as a research assistant at the Parliament of Ghana and being at the parliament, I have seen the things that are handed to MPs to be moved to their various constituencies, to be given to various assemblies
One of the things I want to curtail is teenage pregnancy,I believe it’s time to educate boys and girls on the effect of teenage pregnancy and also teach them how to prevent it
The Kokote market is one of the biggest market but it’s deteriorating,the market is so deprived of a lot of basic things that a thriving market should have an this women pay taxes but it’s not been used effectively
When elected,I will make sure I put an end to this menace, ” she said.
Although the district level election is non-partisan, some assembly members at Kokote in the Offinso municipality assembly are politicizing the polls.
This adversely affects aspirants who are not affiliated to any political party.
“It’s unfortunate that the assembly elections here at Kokote has become partisan politics
I’m not here based on any political party, I’m not representing any political party, I’m representing the people of Kokote
I hope the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) will educate the public on District Level Elections(DLE),”she added
The Alliance for Women in Media (AWMA) is however, encouraging the electorate to vote for more women in the district level elections slated for 19th December to promote inclusion at all levels.
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