Friday, October 17, 2008

Mawusi Awity

The price of politics in Ghana makes for an interesting story - even more so when we encounter one woman's struggle.

From Inter Press Service News Agency:
"Mawusi Awity and her husband were willing to jeopardize his military career for her dream of running for parliament in Ghana but there was another price to pay that she could not afford.

"The excessive use of money to win the minds and hearts of the voters is making it difficult for women to get into the forefront of politics," Awity told IPS.

A development worker and district assemblywoman for the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Awity, 46, is one of a handful of women trying to move into Ghana's political arena. Her story shows the need to re-draw political rules in this democratic West African country (pop.23 million).

In August, Awity lost the primary election to choose the parliamentary candidate for the South Tongu constituency, in the southeast.

Never mind the possible consequences for her husband, an officer in the Armed Forces, of her choice. "My husband has resigned himself to the fate that if my party looses the elections, that is the end of his career," she added. "But he is a wonderful man and supports me."

The insurmountable problem was vote-buying among party delegates, a common practice in Ghana, according to political analysts.

The numbers speak for themselves. For this year's general elections scheduled for December, only 70 women are running for Parliament's 230 seats.

Perhaps the lesson of the last elections in 2004 was not lost on women. Between the two main parties and a few small ones, a total of 101 women ran. Twenty-four were elected -- just under 11 per cent of Members of Parliament (MPs).

The NPP fielded 227 candidates, of whom 27 were women. Twenty women and 107 men were elected.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) fielded 212 male candidates, of whom 90 were elected, and 16 women, of whom four were elected.

The Convention People's Party (CPP) candidates numbered 150 men and 18 women. Only two men were elected."

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