Civic education and women’s political participation

  • Women face significant barriers to participation and leadership in Ghanaian politics due to social norms. A lack of direct representation reduces women’s influence on community decisions and is more generally thought to hold back local economic development.
  • In order to tackle this issue, Ghana’s National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) implemented a civic education campaign to encourage women to become active in grassroots politics, organising assemblies with community leaders called “durbars”.
  • This project investigated the impact of the NCCE campaign using a randomised evaluation method to determine whether the durbars changed both women’s attitude to and participation in politics.
  • The researchers found that the durbars failed to change rates of women’s participation or change community members’ attitudes about the appropriateness of women’s participation. Neither men nor women in communities where durbars were held were more likely to have participated in local politics.
  • The researchers suggest that, if used, future durbars should have simple and consistently-implemented messages. However, alternative methods of civic education may instead be more effective.