Embracing Inclusivity, increasing women’s representation, a case for Affirmative Action law in Ghana  

A GNA feature by Bertha Badu-Agyei  

Accra, GNA, July 6, GNA – In less than six months, Ghana is scheduled to go to the polls and elect a President and 276 (Sall included) members of Parliament for the next four years in conformity with the 1992 constitution.   

 The conversations around increasing women’s participation in governance and leadership and representation in Ghana’s House of Parliament and the call for an affirmative action law comes to play once again.  

Current Situation  

Currently in Ghana, women’s representation in Parliament stands at 40 representing 15.5 per cent out of 275 members representing the various constituencies. 

This figure ranks lower than the global average of 26.7 per cent and much lower than the 27 per cent average in sub-Saharan Africa, and within the gender gap index, Ghana is placed 23 among 35 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

 The pre-election primaries, organized by the two major political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), saw about 10 of these 40 female parliamentarians losing their bids to contest in the 2024 General elections to men, significantly decreasing women’s opportunity to inclusion. 

This brings to the fore, the need of an Affirmative Action law, a targeted intervention to intentionally get more women to Parliament by removing certain systems and barriers which hinder their participation. 


Gender Advocates and political watchers have expressed grave concern that women’s parliamentary representation in elections 2024 was going to suffer further erosion considering the number of women who lost in the previous election primaries of the NPP and NDC. 

Mrs Hamida Harrison, Resource and Mobilization coordinator at Abantu for Development, an international women’s rights organisation, described the situation as an indictment on Ghana’s democracy because “over 50 percent of Ghana’s population is underrepresented”. 

Because Ghana had acknowledged that women’s equal political participation was central to democratic governance by making commitments to various international conventions and instruments, it was a matter of obligation to put measures in place to meet the demands.  

“Given the fact that Ghana has signed and ratified several protocols and conventions such as the CEDAW and Maputo protocols, she is therefore mandated to take all appropriate measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in political and public life and that urgently calls for passage of the affirmative action law.” 

Continuous inequality between men and women in decision-making raises a number of specific concerns regarding the achievement of effective social transformation and the entire process of democratisation. 

Affirmative Action 

 Affirmative Action are targeted policies and measures designed deliberately with the aim to address historical and systemic inequalities by providing opportunities and resources to marginalized groups, such as women, children, individuals with disabilities, and ethnic minorities. 

For instance, Ghana’s School feeding programme aimed to improve enrolment and retention at the basic schools in deprived communities, the Free Senior High School policy to increase secondary and technical level education, have arguably been mentioned as a form of an affirmative action since they were geared towards addressing imbalance and inequality which existed between the rich and the poor.  

Another example of an Affirmative Action was “The Representation of the Peoples Act of 1959”, introduced by the first President of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, which was able to pave the way for 10 women to be elected to the National Assembly (Parliament) in the 1960s. 

In Ghana, where traditional, cultural, social hierarchies and biases still persist against women, affirmative action such as gender quotas to help bridge the gap and empower women to reach their full potential is not only a moral imperative but a necessary step towards a more inclusive society. 


According to Mrs Harrison, there was the need for greater accountability from the state to see to the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into law and prioritise greater investment in women’s rights and gender equality for a transformational change as required by the agenda 2030 of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Meanwhile, the clarion call is for the political party’s accountability, as institutions which control the space relating to participation and facilitate the national governance process. 

“Without dismantling the rigid party structures, favoured by the dominant powerful male groups and enabling women to make inroads in the fiercely competitive platforms for political party positions, there is no democracy” she emphasized. 

Some argue that affirmative action is unfair or undermines meritocracy, However, it is essential to recognize that the playing field has never been level in the first place for women and Affirmative action is not about handing out free passes but about addressing the structural disadvantages that have historically held certain groups back.