Media Foundation Engages Women on Public Discourse Participation

From right, Anita De-Sosoo, Otiko Djaba, Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin and Eva Lokko

The Media Foundation for West Africa, in collaboration with Foundation for Security and Development in Africa, has held a day’s national policy forum for media practitioners and women occupying key positions to discuss ways to increase the participation of women in public dialogue and governance.

The participation of women in public discourse is one of the ways in which they can publicize their views on issues affecting them and the country at large.

However, the participation of women in governance, especially in public discourse, has dwindled over the years.

A project by the Media Foundation for West African and other development partners revealed that although women who participate in public discourse are knowledgeable, they are relatively very low in number.

The ‘Increasing women’s voices in participation in public discourse in Ghana’ project found out that of the 5,579 individuals who participated in programmes in radio stations across the country over the last four months, only 20 per cent were females. They included moderators, panelists and callers.

Addressing the issue, the expert panel consisting Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin, Executive Director, Abantu for Development, Dzifa Bampoh, Editor Joy Fm, Anita De-Sosoo, National Women’s Organizer (NDC), Otiko Djaba, National Women’s organizer, NPP and Eva Lokko, Vice Presidential Candidate for the PPP in 2012 elections, said women could no longer afford to be left behind in terms of public dialogue.

The panelists said that although women are willing to come out to dialogue publicly, social and cultural factors still hinder them.

Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin said there is a huge gap between the intention of promoting women and the reality on the ground.

She said although there is a lot of work on paper, there is little evidence on the ground.

Ms. Eva Lokko said society was biased against women.

Mrs. Bampoh however noted that although the platform has been created in the media, most women are not able to make time for other activities like engaging in public discourse.

Because of the way women are brought up and made to believe that they cannot be in leadership position, they shy away from public engagements, the women said.

The women called for the actualization of the affirmative action bill, which will allow for 40 per cent representation in Parliament.

Media houses were also admonished to promote the participation of more women in media dialogue and programmes.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma West, Ursla Owusu-Ekuful suggested that women can only engage in public dialogue if they are encouraged, equipped and supported.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri & Angela Dzidzornu

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