Stakeholders discuss media impact on women in politics

The Progressive Advancement for Women’s Advancement (POWA) has held its second forum with a call on female politicians to take advantage of social media and become more visible on the political landscape.

Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, the Head of the Department of Communications at the University of Ghana (UG), who made the suggestion urged women in politics to take advantage of the technological advancement that allowed one to control her news and information that goes to the public

She said social media may represent an opportunity for women in politics to by-pass the traditional media and put out their own news in innovative ways in which they could reach people.

The second POWA forum on the theme: “How has the media impacted on the participation of women in politics?” sought to digest, probe, classify and discover whether the Ghanaian media had impacted positively or negatively on Ghanaian women in politics.

The second POWA forum was organised by POWA in collaboration with the Centre for Social Policy Studies (CSPS) at UG.

Professor Abena D. Oduro, Director CSPS, said the media have a critical role to play in facilitating women’s entry into politics.

She noted that the media had evolved, saying, “there is the print media, television, radio and now we have social media which itself takes different forms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name a few.”

She said the media informed the views and perspectives of the electorate and thereby could influence the electorate’s decision on who to vote for.

Madam Elizabeth Ohene, the Former Editor of the Daily Graphic, said visibility for women in politics was a big issue that needed to be addressed urgently, adding that, part of the problem of visibility was that a lot of barriers got in the way of women in politics.

She said inasmuch as the social media help to by-pass the gatekeepers “do not be carried away because it might come back and haunt you tomorrow”.

Nana Oye Lithur, a former Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, said the media was challenged with having to raise income for the media houses, noting that it was about traffic and money.

She said changing the narrative of women in the media needed to be deliberate because the construction had always been deliberate.

She called for the need to set standards that would regulate what information the media churned out especially on women, saying that the National Media Commission had done its best but more needed to be done.

Mr Ivor Greenstreet, the 2016 Presidential Candidate of the Convention People’s Party, noted that there had been a deliberate action to relegate women to the background and that hindered their participations in politics.

He noted that men in politics were afraid of women in politics of becoming a powerful force to reckon with.

Mr Paul Adom-Otchere, the Host of ‘Good Evening Ghana’ on Metro TV, said it was not necessarily about increasing participation of women in politics, because according to him there could be other ways to achieve the affirmative action.

He said the country had achieved a lot in terms of women participation in politics, citing the fact that the Attorney General and the Chief Justice were all women, adding that the statistics should not be limited.

Madam Victoria Lakshmi Hamah, the Executive Director of POWA, said the forum was designed to offer an inclusive public-discourse platform to engage progressive individuals on a series of conversations about developmental issues and policies related to the social and economic empowerment of women and marginalized groups.
Quoting Karl Marx, she said “the advancement of any society can only be effectively measured by the advancement of women.”

She said the social position of women was integrally connected with the social positions of all marginalized people of any society, adding that, historically, women had been marginalised and thus require special support in order to achieve for them social justice and a sustainable wellbeing.

She said it was necessary that women participated in politics and recognized as true and active patriot like their male counterparts.

Mr Roland Affail Monney, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association, said the body was committed to the affirmative action and that was reflected in the ‘three-woman, three-man’ leadership of the Association.

He urged the Association of Women in the Media to leverage on the power they wielded to assist women in politics by joining forces with gender activists and POWA to salvage the situation.

He urged the media to resist the temptation of painting all female politicians as mere attentions seekers or fashion celebrities. GNA

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