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

Alhassan Baba, Wang Yihuan, Ahmed Mahmud, Alhassan Fahad


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 a 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 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 culminating 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. Society considers women as the property of men and property cannot be part of decision-making. A good number of women have a low level of formal education and can neither read nor write in order to 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 let alone put themselves to be elected into positions of responsibilities. The study revealed that culture and religion despise 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

DOI: 10.7176/RHSS/9-2-04

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