Prospects and Challenges of Women Participation in Local Governance - Evidence from Jirapa District, Upper West Region, Ghana

Alhassan Baba, Wang Yihuan


Women’s role in community development has become crucial and critical in contemporary times. It is in the light of this that women’s involvement in governance and decision-making is paramount to the realization of this social objective. Despite the benefits that communities stand to gain if women were incorporated into local governance and decision-making, women still face barrage of discrimination at various levels of social and political discourse. Traditional social structures have tendered to place women in the subservient position in relation to men and hence making such societies patriarchal in nature. Even though women generally outnumbered men in Ghana (PHC, 2010), their numerical strength does not transform their power positions as they themselves have come to accept their traditional placements without question. This has led to the deep institutionalization of women’s role at the margin of society.

The monopoly of men in the political discourse in Ghana and in the Jirapa District in particular, thus resulting in the relegation of women to the background, this neglect according to the study is attributable to; lack formal education among women, inaccessible to community resources leading high rate of poverty, inferiority complex due to inadequate exposure and many more culminated into women not been active participants but passive ones in critical decision-making, implementation and evaluation, even issues that affect their own welfare. Many other varied reasons accounted for this unfortunate situation in political circles in the given District. These range from cultural, educational, economical and even politically.

Men are the ones that marries women and therefore considered the property of men and property cannot be part of decision-making. A good number of women have a low level of education and can neither read nor write and understand many social and cultural issues of concern especially those that enlightens them. The absence of independence coupled with societal perception makes it extremely difficult for women to actively participate in local governance process and most particularly get elected into positions of responsibilities. The study within the district revealed that, culturally and religiously, many societies despises women for the reason of monthly menstrual flow, and therefore regarded as impure during those moments to occupy leadership positions. Women have always remained in the shadows of men in all spheres of life within the Jirapa District.

Keywords: Women Participation, Patriarch, Local Governance, Empowerment, Jirapa District

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