posted by: Justice Atiim on November 14, 2018

Participation in governance is important for democracy. It allows for excluded and/or minority groups to assert their rights and advocate for themselves. Unfortunately, in Northern Ghana, some important groups are not having their voices heard in local governance structures.

With funding from STAR-Ghana, RAINS has initiated the Enhancing Social Inclusion in Local Governance (ESILG) program in the districts of Gushegu and West Mamprusi. The objective is to empower excluded groups—women, youth, disabled people, and the Fulani community—to be involved in District Assemblies (DAs).

These groups have substantial importance as citizens but are not represented in governance. While women compose of 51 percent of the population, this is not reflected in DAs and subsequently their issues are often pushed aside. Youth’s contributions to society are downplayed, yet the majority (57 percent) of the Ghanaian population is 25 years or younger. Disabled peoples have low representation in DAs and their concerns are not at the forefront of discussions. Finally, the Fulani community is a nomadic group of whom is virtually invisible to governance structures despite that they contribute significantly to the economy.

ESILG has two main strategies. First, to work with the aforesaid excluded groups to build their capacity on advocacy and participation in DAs. Second, to build the capacity of District Assemblies on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) so that their environments are more welcoming to these groups.

In the month of October, capacity building workshops were held to carry out these strategies.

This included a workshop on GESI for various Departmental and Unit heads of the District Assemblies in the Gushegu and West Maprusi Municipalities. The objectives were as follows: enhance capacity of members in GESI planning and service delivery; facilitate a dialogue around barriers to GESI and how they can be addressed; and to identify areas of collaboration between the Assemblies, RAINS, and other partners to ensure GESI in the performance of their functions.

The participants expressed their excitement for this opportunity and the insights that the training gave. They indicated that before the training, many of the issues that were highlighted had been taken for granted. They promised to be ready to learn more on issues of GESI with the ultimate goal of becoming effective in promoting a holistic and inclusive governance environment.

Another training brought together members of the excluded groups from surrounding communities of Walewale and Gushegu. The objective of the sworkshop was to introduce the ESILG program to some of its beneficiaries and to mobilise and prepare them to engage meaningfully with the assemblies. People were very enthusiastic about the program. There is much interest in being involved in District Assemblies, but a lack of access and knowledge.

Participants were also given their first advocacy training, which was designed to give them basic skills necessary to advocate for themselves.

In upcoming months, more workshops and trainings are planned to further carry out ESLIG’s objectives.