Date of Award

8-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Policy Studies

Advisor

Robinson, Kenneth L.

Committee Member

Mobley , Catherine F

Committee Member

Smith , Robert W

Committee Member

Morris , Michael A

Committee Member

Ransom II , Bruce W

Abstract

This study investigates the role of civil society organizations (CSOs), especially gender-based groups in increasing the 'substantive' representation or the perspectives, views, and concerns of women in public policy-making in emerging democracies. In the last 30 years, calls for equality in the representation of women have received a boost mainly because of the disparity between the proportions of women in national populations and in legislatures. In Ghana where women are about 50 percent of the population, women constitute only 8.7 percent of the 230-member parliament as of January 2009. Such disparities produce critical implications for women's empowerment and participation in public policy-making, especially in emerging democracies.
Ghana's return to democratic governance in 1992 brought with it guaranteed freedoms and new avenues for participation by CSOs. Various civil society groups, including the women's movement have emerged to take advantage of the new avenues to organize and be part of the democratic process. However, there is yet to be a comprehensive analysis of the role these groups play in the democratization process, especially in increasing women's substantive representation and participation in Ghana, and so this study fills that gap.
This mixed-method qualitative research applies a revision of John Kingdon's multiple streams framework to comprehensively analyze the activities of the women's movement to understand their motivations, goals, and impacts on the democratic process in Ghana. The archival information and also key informant interviews reviewed about the resources, strategies, and challenges faced by the women's movement in their advocacy for Ghana's 2007 Domestic Violence Law showed that such groups play vital role in democratization.
A major finding from this study is that gender-based CSOs enhance avenues for attracting much-needed outside resources for institution and capacity building for both grassroots groups and official policy actors to improve the democratic process, especially in emerging societies. The study therefore argues that societies should recognize and support the development of CSOs to increase the avenues for participation by under-represented groups like women in the policy process. This position is more relevant in societies where women still have 'token' representations or fewer than 30 percent women in legislatures, and where institutional inadequacies exacerbate an already precarious situation for women's participation in the policy process.

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