Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Professor Vicki Banham

Second Supervisor

Dr Hosein Adibi

Third Supervisor

Dr Kwadwo Adusei-Asante

Fourth Supervisor

Dr Jennifer Loh


Calls for more female participation in politics have featured strongly in developed and developing countries since 1975 when the UN made women’s issues a priority. Ghanaian society’s underlying patriarchal structure has made some progress towards gender equity in politics. Whilst there has been a significant improvement in levels of female participation and representation rates, targets have not been reached and the least amount of progress has taken place in local government. The thesis draws upon theories of gender and development (GAD) that emphasises on gender relations in development and proposed the empowerment of women as central to gender equality. Also, social capital underpins this study in arguing that although social capital tends to be accessed differently by men and women, and that culturally men have more established ways of networking widely, there is potential for women to strategically garner social capital in ways that are beneficial to contesting for political seats. Interviews undertaken individually with 40 women in district assembly (DA) positions, and focus groups of 40 men and 10 women campaigners from 4 zones in the country were transcribed, categorised and coded using Nvivo version 10 software. From this qualitative data, the enabling and precluding factors of participation in local government by women in Ghana were analysed and ranked according to the prevalence in the data. The results identified that enabling factors’ themes were Individual Motivational Strategy, Community Support, Civil Society Support, Family Support and Campaign Strategy. Precluding factors’ themes were Barriers, Challenging Factors, and Discouraging Factors. The issues surrounding gender equity in Ghanaian politics and governance have been comprehensively described against this backdrop of explanations from people with experience of campaigning, taking up official positions, and in some cases withdrawing from politics or competing against women. v Whilst patriarchal beliefs still abound for aspiring and serving female politicians, some candidates have been able to achieve high levels of male support, and many feel voters’ support has come from constituents’ belief that representation by a woman is their best hope of having development addressing women’s issues. The findings are potentially useful to future aspiring female politicians in Ghana, and other stakeholders committed to encouraging and supporting women with the overall aim of achieving gender equity.


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