The former Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the local chapter of global anti graft organization Transparent International (TI) Vitus Adaboo Azeem, has faulted the two main political parties for failing to put gender issues in their manifestos to address specific needs of, especially women, children and the aged.
According to Mr Azeem, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) still have a long way to go in the area of gender specific issues, despite scoring higher the opposition party for it 2020 manifesto.
Mr Azeem, said the governing NPP in it 2020 unlike the NDC, paid little attention to issues that concern women specifically, indicating that in the whole of that document, the party mentioned the word gender just ones, while the NDC mentioned it 12 times.
On the use of the word women, he said the NPP mentioned it 12 times, while the NDC used it 32 times, adding even though the opposition party appeared more concerned and specific about issues on women per it recent manifesto, he remains unconvinced on they achieving them.
"In general, what I found was that there was no specific focus on issues in both manifestos although the NDC mentioned certain specific interventions for women, youth and the aged but in general, the interventions were general on the assumption that everybody will benefit (women, children whatever).
But we know that it is not true that everybody will benefit equally from whatever benefit the government puts in place so it is always necessary to target specific people with specific interventions", he said.
The now independent consultant on governance and related issues, said failing to identify the needs of the various groupings, shows how important or otherwise they are to policy makers.
In his view, the promises by the NDC, though laudable, are too fantastic to be achieved, pointing out the many competing needs and demands, constraints, will hinder the implementation of this vision in the event that it wins the elections.
Noting some of the specific women issues outlined in the NDC manifesto, Mr Azeem, mentioned the extension of maternity leave from three months to four months and one week break for men, the promise to introduce award scheme for women cocoa farmers, incentives and four other laws as ones that promote the good of women.
The NPP, he regretted wasted so much time focusing on what it has managed to achieve or it is working on rather than telling the electorates, what it is going to do in the event that it retains power in December.
The two, however, stated in their respective manifestos that they would work to pass the aged and affirmative action bills and also amend the Interstate Succession law.
The anti corruption campaigner ,who said this during a presentation on analysis and gender audit of political manifestos of the two leading political parties by ActionAid Ghana on Friday in Accra, said the obvious gap has come about as a result of the parties disinterest in gender auditing.
Gender auditing is the analysis of the income and expenditures of the government from a gender perspective. The basic assumption of gender auditing is that public policy impacts differently on men and women. It purpose, is to lead to changes in public policy that contributes to an increase in gender equality.
Gender specific issues he noted, is not peculiar to only women, explaining it is the responsibility of every government to concern itself with issues of gender and research on them and find solutions to them.
He said the parties missed the opportunity to do gender auditing, because they don't think it is important and secondly, it is difficult to implement such specific needs because they want to satisfy everybody and so they assume that the manifestos they put up will address the needs of everyone.
According to him, it is so because if they make interventions for women for instance, other groups will be up in arms demanding for their share.
He said the assumption is that when they generalize the issues by not being specific, it will still address the needs of all which he said is untrue because there are different people and their needs.
He said a policy that is general for instance on women who are into cocoa growing, will leave out other women in other parts of the country who are into Shea nuts and so will be disadvantageous and so when it is done for one group, there should be other policies to cater for the others.
He asked civil society to make their voices heard by making suggestions and inputs in the drafting of these manifestos so that they do not end up disappointed after they are put out.
Mr Azeem, said civil societies which are supposed to put government on it toes are not doing enough and so changed them to be up and doing.
In all, Mr Azeem, intimated that even though the parties have failed on gender auditing, women and the other groupings must continue to demand for their rights and hold governments accountable for what they promise by sometimes demonstrating to register their displeasure.
Project Manager of ActionAid Ghana, Azumi Mesona, said the programme was to analyze the gender perspectives in terms of infrastructure, agriculture, technology and overall development of women and how gender sensitive and transformational.
The programme was to help participants understand the issues in the manifestos to enable them make informed decision when voting and also engage in meaningfully. The regions that benefitted from the programme were the Northern, Upper East, West, Bono, Ahafo and Volta Regions.
Participants were rural farmers basically farmers, while others were from different fields and it is expected that those who were educated and the issues broken down to their level will go back to their respective regions and pass on the information to their colleagues.
She was happy the parties were gender conscious but was concerned none was conscious about gender budgeting.