Getting More Women Into Parliament: Ways & Means

Venue: STAR Ghana Conference Room, 12 Obenesu Crescent, Cantonments

August 17, 2017
End Date: August 17, 2017

Twenty-five years after Ghana’s transition from military rule, women’s representation in parliament remains remarkably low. With 12.7 percent women in parliament (the most ever), Ghana is ranked 141st out of 194 countries worldwide – at the same time that one African country, Rwanda, leads the world in women’s representation in parliament and 15 African countries have 30 percent - or well more - women in their parliaments. Over the years scholars have attributed the low number of women in parliament in Ghana to a variety of factors, including: a ‘politics of insult’ that dominates the political landscape, an exorbitant and prohibitive ‘cost of politics,’ the continuing power of patriarchy, a failure of political parties to recruit and select women candidates and a lingering legacy of military rule. More fundamentally, Ghana has a plurality first-past-the-post electoral system and no electoral gender quota for parliament (despite having had one of the first in Africa soon after independence). 

In plurality first-past-the-post electoral systems, the political party primaries are the critical moment for potential women candidates for parliament, and yet those primary processes may be variable and subject to manipulation. Voters in Ghana appear not to discriminate against women candidates for parliament in the general election, but there are always very few women candidates – and thus Ghana’s overall representation of women in parliament remains remarkably low. 

Our upcoming learning event explores to what extent women are not standing during party primaries and if not, why not, or whether they do stand in the primaries of the two major parties but are regularly unsuccessful – and what might be done about that. Lessons from around Africa and the world will inform the discussion. 


About Guest Speaker
Gretchen Bauer is professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware where she teaches African and comparative politics. Her current research focuses on women's political leadership in Africa. She has been a Visiting Researcher at the Institute for Public Policy Research in Windhoek, Namibia (2002) and at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, Botswana (2009). During 2016 she was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ghana, Legon, in Accra, Ghana. Since 2014 she has served as academic director for the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship civic leadership summer institutes at the University of Delaware. 

About Odekro’s Brown Bag Series:
The Odekro Brown Bag Series is a learning platform designed to foster peer-learning among Civil Society Organisations, Academics, Researchers, Media, Parliament and Duty Bearers. This program is sponsored by STAR-Ghana.