The New Patriotic Party Women Caucus of the in Parliament has thrown its weight behind the National Executive Committee’s decision to reserve seats for women.
According to the Women Legislators, this action to allow its current sitting female Members of Parliament (MPs) to be contested by only female members of the party and not males deserves commendation and not the sort of backlash it is receiving from within and out of the party.
It will be recalled that at its NEC meeting on Monday, the opposition NPP proposed a new set of guidelines for its upcoming parliamentary primaries.
This led to anger from a section of its supporters who stormed the party’s headquarters in buses seething with rage over attempts to impose women candidates on them.
NEC at that meeting, also decided that each parliamentary aspirant in orphan constituencies should pay a filing fee of GH¢10,000 while sitting Members of Parliament seeking re-election are required to pay GH¢10,000 as filing fee.
Parliamentary aspirants in constituencies with sitting NPP MPs are, however, being asked to pay a filing fee of GH¢10,000 plus an additional GH¢20,000 as development fee, with 50% rebate being given to female and youth aspirants as well as people with disability.
The protests to these guidelines, mostly women from some of the constituencies likely to be affected by the decision such as Tema West, Ablekuma West, Awutu Senya and Kasoa, argued that NEC’s decision especially the one seeking to protect female MPs, is a complete breach of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
But the female MP’s appear to be on a collision course with their constituents and party members over this action by NEC since in their view “the idea of reserving 30% of all seats in parliament for women as the acceptable minimum, was set by the Beijing Platform for Action and the United Nations.”
Reiterating their stance, the MP’s who ditched the idea of a press conference at the last minute and instead shared copies of the statement added that “The Maputo protocol signed by former President Kufuor and ratified by Ghana’s Parliament in 2003, mandates all states to ensure that at least 30% of seats in all African Parliament are held by women. The target date for implementation of the protocol being this year, 2015.”
Urging the party’s hierarchy to be resolute in their “affirmative action” decision, the NPP female Members of Parliament “urged NEC and the National Council to stand firm and insist on the full implementation of this policy for posterity sake, despite the understandable opposition spearheaded by those who were hoping to contest those seats in the upcoming primaries.”
Dispelling notions that they were scared of competition hence hiding under the clause to give them protection, the statement signed by Esther Obeng Dapaah, Chairperson of the Minority Women’s Caucus in Parliament said they “are not afraid of competition and in need of protection.”
Touting their fighting prowess in 2012 when they contested and won against both men and women, the female MP’s said “as tried and tested political operatives, (they) have all been in keen contests before and won both primaries and seats convincingly” hence not in need of any kid gloves to retain their seats.
This policy they added, if left to stay “will make it easier for the next generation of women politicians to get into parliament” which will be of immense benefit to generations yet unborn.
The statement also called on “all well-meaning Ghanaians to support this cause, stand firm and join in the struggle to increase women’s participation in decision making and the ultimate development of our nation.”
In a related development,
Aggrieved members in Ablekuma West constituency have also joined a wave of disgruntled members across the country opposing the affirmative action policy and have petitioned the NEC to reverse the decision.
They said the current Member of Parliament (MP) Ursula Owusu-Ekufful abandoned them after winning the seat in 2012 and therefore they want other male candidates to vie for the seat.
According to the constituency executives, if Ursula Owusu-Ekufful is confident about the work she has done in the constituency, nothing should stop her from contesting again – no matter the gender of the person challenging her.
They have given the leadership of the party until Friday March 27, 2015 to come up with a favorable response to their demands or face their wrath.
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