Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women’s Increasing Participation in SRC Politics

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By Lawrencia Nyarko.

In the realm of politics, the narrative of power and governance has long been dominated by male voices. Yet, history reveals an extra ordinary counter-narrative from suffragettes who paved way for women’s voting power.

Today, we see incredible examples of women in political positions in the world at large. On the global stage, women have been increasingly influential in politics. They hold diverse roles in various countries and international organizations.

This includes the likes of Kamala Harris, vice president of the United States of America who visited Ghana recently, making history as the first female vice president, and her role extends to issues of both domestic and international importance.

There is also Ursula von der Leyen, who is the president of the European commission, leading the executive branch of the European Union, impacting the political landscape of the continent.

And then there is our own Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former president of Liberia, who was the first woman in Africa to be elected as a head of state; and, Amina J. Mohammed, the deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Over the years, Ghana has witnessed a surge in the participation of women in political affairs. Historically, the role of women in politics was limited, but recent years have seen a notable increase in female political representation at various levels. President Nana Akufo-Addo has been a vocal advocate for gender equality in politics. He stated that “women bring unique perspective and capabilities to the table, and their active participation in politics is crucial for the nation’s development and progress.”

Ghana boasts of a number of influential women in political positions. Notable figures include the late Hon. Joyce Adeline Bamford-Addo, who became the first female speaker of parliament, Prof. Naana Opoku Agyemang, (former Minister of Education) and running mate of former president John D. Mahama.

Ghana’s 7th parliament had 13% women representation. After the 2020 general election, women’s representation increased by 1%. So far, the country has produced 36 female ministers in the 4th republic who have occupied various portfolios, including finance, foreign affairs, gender, education, health and more. Some of these notable ministers are Shirley Ayokor Botchwey (Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration minister), Ursula Owusu Ekuful (Communication and Digitalization), Mavis Hawa Koomson (Fisheries and Aquaculture) and Freda Prempeh (Minister of State).

Women in Ghanaian universities though have not been so involved in the executive of student politics. They constitute 5.6 million against 15 million males. Though the difference may be huge, it still does not stop them from occupying high offices in their colleges’ Student Representative Councils (SRCs) where high offices have always been dominated by the men. Fortunately, some women are working hard at breaking barriers to occupying the high office.

Ms Yvonne Osei, First female president of KNUST

Wisconsin International University had its first female SRC president in 2018. Bridget Bonnie Agbenyo became the school’s first ever female president against all odds.

“I must say a lot of people were surprised when they found out I had picked forms to contest for the SRC presidency. This was because, in the history of the school, no female had ever vied for the position. Hence many were skeptical I would win,” she said.

After 71 years of the establishment of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science And Technology, a third year sociology student, Yvonne Osei Adobea, also blazed the trail to become the first ever female president of the SRC.

At African University College of Communications (AUCC), the presidency has always been occupied by the men. Certain offices like Welfare, Women’s Commission, General Secretary and Vice President sometimes are usually left for the women. In the past four years, Mrs. Susan Malik, first, and Noretha Dosu last year, stood among the men as the first and only females to vie for the SRC president position.

This year, we have a female candidate aspiring for the AUCC vice president position. She is Millicent Opoku, a Level 300 Strategic Communication student. Poised to challenge the status-quo in the upcoming 2023 SRC elections, she told my colleague Alexander Asare in an exclusive interview:

Millicent Opoku, Going for AUCC SRC Vice President

“I am … encouraging more women to rise up for higher leadership roles, because inside every woman is the ability, capacity, confidence and strength to make huge differences in the society. I’m of the firm conviction that, a woman can become SRC president or vice at AUCC, as other women of higher learning institutions elsewhere have [done]. The feet-dragging approach of women challenging themselves in taking up leadership positions has lingered for long. The society needs us, the institutions need us, and our schools need us to brighten the corners. We will conquer and occupy.”

The rise in women’s participation in Ghanaian politics is a remarkable achievement, signaling a step forward in the journey towards gender equality. As more women take the leadership roles and contribute to decision-making, Ghana is not only building a more inclusive democracy but also inspiring women worldwide to engage in politics and create a brighter future for all.

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