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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
If women ruled the world
BBC World Service's Africa Live! programme is examining the issue of women in power on the subcontinent. Here, Nana Oye Lithur of the International Federation of Women Lawyers in Ghana givers her view.

Yes, the world would definitely be a better place if women ruled it.

Male-dominated election posters in South Africa
Nowhere in the world, is women's involvement in the political process proportionate to the 50% of the population they approximately represent
Yaa Asantewaa of the Asante Kingdom of Ghana is a classic historical example of a female leader who reaffirmed loyalty to the Golden Stool, the symbol of the Asante nationhood.

In the face of despair, when all the male leaders had given up, she restored hope, and marshalled the Asantes to fight the British to preserve the Golden Stool, the sovereignty of the Asantes.

Her leadership was critical, she restored and rekindled their determination to assert and fight for their independence against all odds.

There would be fewer conflicts if women ruled the world.

Political life is organized according to male norms and values that promote confrontation, competitiveness, and is adversarial.

These masculine norms facilitate conflict.

In their dealings, women adopt mechanisms that facilitate peace; these are mediation, conciliation, collaboration and consensus building.

Governance by women according to a feminist model of politics that applies mediation, conciliation, collaboration and consensus building mechanisms in governance would foster peace.

Social issues

Women leaders would address the issue of patriarchy, cultural and traditional values and broaden the scope of politics to include issues like land ownership, inheritance rights, reproductive rights, and social services.

Women would ensure that these issues become political issues instead of social issues. They would ensure equitable representation.

Albertina and Walter Sisulu
Most Africans believe that a woman's role on earth is to assist a man and not to lead
Chris Ajoku, Nigerian in USA

Particularly in Africa, women leaders would ensure that socio-economic rights, including the right to health, education, social security, and a safe environment, are justifiable and guaranteed in national constitutions - instead of being hidden in the directive principles of state policy chapter of national constitutions, a practice that has been adopted by some African countries.

As directive principles of state policies they act as guides for states, and are not legally enforceable.

With women leaders, there would be an emergence of what I would term "humane governance".

Democratic governance with a human face that would address more positively, critical concerns of the governed:

  • Provision of social services;
  • Safe drinking water;
  • Employment;
  • Food;
  • Healthcare;
  • Childcare
  • Land

The most critical issue is that women would not be better leaders if they have to apply the prevailing patriarchal, male political structures to govern.

The application of these structures in governing has ensured that, though women have been guaranteed political rights in over 95% of all countries in the world, nowhere in the world, is women's involvement in the political process proportionate to the 50% of the population they approximately represent.

As far as I am concerned, democracy that is gender blind and lopsided is no democracy.


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