Women’s interest in politics increases, though gender gap remains

Ghanaian women’s interest in public affairs and political discussion increased between 2012 and 2015, reversing a decade-long decline, a new analysis of Afrobarometer data indicates.

This shifting attitude of women toward politics was recorded prior to the seventh presidential and parliamentary election of the 4th Republic, when there was a clarion call for an increase in women’s participation and representation in the country’s politics. Despite the improvement, Ghanaian women continue to trail men on indicators of political and civic engagement.

This analysis was shared by Dr. John Osae-Kwapong, associate vice president at the University of Findlay in the United States, during a seminar on “Women’s Perspective on Ghana’s 4th Republic Through the Eyes of Afrobarometer.” Held at the Center for Democratic Development in Accra, the seminar sought to shed light on the views expressed by women on important questions regarding democratic governance in Ghana.

Key findings

  • A majority (54%) of Ghanaian women say they are “somewhat” or “very” interested in public affairs, an increase of 12 percentage points since 2012. Similarly, the proportion of women who say they discuss political matters “frequently” grew from 13% in 2012 to 21% in 2015 (Figure 1).
  • Still, on both measures, women trail men by more than 10 percentage points.
  • More than three-fourths (78%) of women say that many political parties are needed in order to give voters a real choice, an increase from 55% in 2002.
  • Women continue to lag behind men in political and civic engagement, such as joining others to raise an issue, contacting leaders, or attending a demonstration.

Afrobarometer

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in Africa. Six rounds of surveys were conducted in up to 37 Africans countries between 1999 and 2016, and Round 7 surveys (2016/2018) are currently underway. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples.

The Afrobarometer team in Ghana, led by the Center for Democratic Development, interviewed 2,400 adults in October 2016. A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-2% at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys have been conducted in Ghana in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2012, and 2015.

Charts

Figure 1: Interest in public affairs | by gender | Ghana | 2012-2015

Respondents were asked:

  • How interested would you say you are in public affairs? (% who say “somewhat” or “very” interested)
  • When you get together with your friends or family, would you say you discuss political matters frequently, occasionally, or never? (% who say “frequently”)

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