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Politics, Equality and Voice Glossary

31st December Women’s Movement
A development oriented non-governmental organisation in Ghana initiated in 1982, which mobilises women at the grassroots level to become conscious of their rights and their potential so that they can contribute to the economic and social development of their communities in Ghana. 31st December Women’s Movement has helped more than 1,000,000 women in Ghana from diverse ethnic backgrounds and different social conditions and have brought change to their lives, households and communities.
Activists
People who strongly oppose or support a cause.
Advocacy
A political process by an individual or group which aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. Advocacy can include many activities, including media campaigns, public speaking, commissioning and publishing research in favour of the cause they are advocating for.
Affirmative Action
Policies that take gender, race, religion or sexual preference into consideration in order to provide tools and systems aimed at better representing these groups in areas of politics, employment, education, and business. (Also see: Gender Equality and Quota).
Amoral
Not caring about the rightness and wrongness of something.
Authoritarianism
A form of government as well as a personality and social trait. It is characterised by absolute obedience to authority, and is against individual freedom of media, press and public speech.
Canvassing
Meeting/talking to people to get them to vote for you.
Capacity Building
An approach to development that focuses on understanding the obstacles that inhibit people, governments, international organisations and non-governmental organisations from achieving developmental goals. It can also enhance the abilities of marginalised groups, such as women, providing them with tools and strategies to reach empowerment. (Also see: Women's Empowerment).
Caste
The division of society into social and racial groups. Most common in India and Pakistan. The Human Rights Watch state that caste discrimination affects an estimated 250 million people worldwide.
Civil Society
Individuals and organisations which work on behalf of society and act independently of government. (Also see: Non-Governmental Organisations).
Civil War
A war between organised groups within the same country. The aim of one side may be to take control of the country, to achieve independence, or to change the ruling government, laws or policies. Civil wars often result in large numbers of civilian casualties; with women and children bearing the brunt of the conflict and being the main victims of atrocities.
Colonialism
A relationship between an indigenous (or forcibly imported) majority and a minority of colonial rulers. The decisions affecting the lives of the colonised people are made and implemented by the colonial rulers in pursuit of interests that are often of benefit to the colonial rulers' home land. Colonialism often rejects cultural compromises with the indigenous colonised population, as colonisers are convinced of their own superiority and their mandate to rule over other peoples and/or nations. (Also see: Pre-Independence).
Convention People’s Party (CPP)
A political party formed in 1949 by Kwame Nkrumah to campaign for the independence of Ghana (then known as the Gold Coast). It was the governing party under Nkrumah from 1951 to 1966. In 1964 the constitution was changed to make the CPP the only legal party in Ghana, making it a one-party system. The coup in 1966 banned the party, it was reformed in 1996. (Also see: Kwame Nkrumah).
Counter-Coup
Occurs due to opposition of a coup, usually by sections of the original government's loyal armed forces, international intervention or civil resistance, whereby the coup is met with mass demonstrations from the population opposed to the new ruling government.
Coup
Also referred to as coup d'état, is the sudden overthrowing of a government, usually by a small revolutionary group within the existing government establishment, typically the military, who will depose the government and replace it with another body, civil or military.
Dictatorship
A form of government, which is ruled by either an individual, a dictator, or an authoritarian party. There are no elections held or opposition parties. Dictatorship can span for many years and often result in a Coup. (Also see: Coup).
Disempowerment
The process or act of depriving a person, or group in society, of influence or importance.
District Assemblies
A form of local government in Ghana, which is non-partisan. There are 10 regions of Ghana, which are split into 216 districts. The districts system was created in 1988 in an attempt by the national government to decentralize government and combat corruption amongst politicians. District level politics is the equivalent of local/community level politics. (Also see: Non-Partisan).
Egyptian Revolution of 2011
Took place following a popular uprising that began on 25th January 2011; which resulted in the overthrowing of the government ruled by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It was a diverse movement of demonstrations, marches, plaza occupations, riots and labour strikes. (Also see: Mubarak).
Egyptian Revolution of 2013
This was a mass revolt that erupted in Egypt on 30th June 2013, marking the one-year anniversary of Mohamed Morsi’s presidency. Millions took to the street to demand his immediate resignation. Reasons for demanding Morsi’s resignation included accusations of increasing authoritarianism and his pushing through an Islamist agenda disregarding that almost two-thirds of Egyptians are not Islamists. The uprising concluded seven months of protests. (Also see: Morsi).
Family planning
Decisions relating to the use of birth control, planning to have children and prevention of unplanned pregnancies. Family Planning also includes education related to the body, reproduction and sexual hygiene.
Femininity
Femininity is a set of qualities, characteristics or roles generally considered typical of, or appropriate to, a woman. Femininity is a dynamic concept that is subject to change depending on age, culture, religion, nationality, sexual preference and environmental factors, among others.
Feminist Movement
The feminist movement (also known as the Women's Movement + Women's Liberation) refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women's suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence, all of which fall under the label of feminism. The movement's priorities vary among nations and communities.
First-Past-The-Post
An electoral system that elects the candidates with the most votes. It is also known as the 'Winner-Takes-All’. The candidates with the highest number of votes get elected, the number elected corresponds to the number of positions to be filled. For example, if there are six positions available, then the first six candidates with the highest number of votes are elected to parliament. FPTP is also known as a ‘Non-Proportional System’ (See: Proportional Representation).
Freedom and Justice Party
An independent party with strong links to the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, the largest and best-organised political group in Egypt. (Also see: Muslim Brotherhood).
Frontline Worker
A person who spends a majority of their time providing a public service.
Gender Equality
The measurable equal representation of women and men. Gender equality does not imply that women and men are the same, but that they have equal value and should be accorded equal treatment. The United Nations regards gender equality as a human right. It points out that empowering women is also an indispensable tool for advancing development and reducing poverty. The ultimate aim of gender equality is to provide equality in law, political participation and representation, formal and informal employment and salaries, social and cultural situations, and access to education and training.
Gender Equality Bill
Introduces a quota system to secure 30% of all Parliament and Local Council seats being held by women. (Also see: Quota).
Gender Strategic Plan
Aims to achieve gender equality, particularly in law and politics, participation, representation, empowerment and the distribution of resources.
Human Development
Development is about expanding the choices people have to lead lives that they value, and improving the human condition so that people have the chance to lead full lives. Human development is about much more than economic growth, which is only a means of enlarging people’s choices. One measure of human development is the Human Development Index (HDI). The United Nations made a commitment to accomplish the 8 Millennium Development Goals by 2015 in order to make an attempt to improve human development.
Human Rights Commission
A body set up to investigate, promote or protect human rights.
Inclusive
Open to everyone.
International Women’s Day
A day dedicated to the appreciation of women and their economic, social and political achievements. The political and human rights themes for this day, as designated by the United Nations, runs strong in some countries and the day holds political weight, influencing policy. In other countries the struggles of women worldwide are given exposure and social events are held.
Islam
The religious faith of Muslims, which teaches that there is only one God and that Muhammad is God's prophet.
Islamist
Followers of Islamism, a set of ideologies holding that Islam should guide social and political as well as personal life. The Muslim Brotherhood is an example of a prominent Islamist group. (Also see: The Muslim Brotherhood).
Jerry Rawlings
Military and political leader in Ghana, who twice (1979, 1981) led a coup and overthrew the government and took power. Rawlings became head of state after the second coup in 1981, he declared Ghana an one-party system and introduced conservative economic policies to revive Ghana’s economy. In 1992, a multi-party system was introduced and Rawlings was elected President after founding the National Democratic Congress party. He was re-elected in 1996 and stood down from the presidency in 2001 after serving the maximum two terms. (Also see: Coup and National Democratic Congress)
Khul
An Islamic divorce law in Egypt where a woman has the legal right to seek a no-fault divorce from her husband, in exchange for forgoing her financial rights.
Kwame Nkrumah
Was the leader of Ghana from 1951 to 1966. He oversaw Ghana’s independence from British colonisation in 1957. Nkrumah was the first Prime Minister of Ghana and then the first President of Ghana. His government was overthrown by a military coup in 1966 after his rule became increasingly authoritarian. (Also see: Authoritarianism).
Lomé Peace Accord
A peace agreement signed on 7 July 1999 between the warring parties in the Sierre Leone civil war. Signed by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leader Foday Sankoh.
Marginalisation
Processes that limit or exclude individuals or entire communities of people from accessing rights, opportunities and resources (e.g. housing, employment, health-care, political participation, worker's rights and education), which are available to other members of society and are key to social integration and development.
Masculine
Having qualities or characteristics traditionally associated with men. (Also see: Masculinity).
Masculinity
Masculinity is a set of qualities, characteristics or roles generally considered typical of, or appropriate to, a man. Masculinity is a dynamic concept that is subject to change depending on age, culture, religion, nationality, sexual preference and environmental factors, among others.
Memorandum
A brief written statement in Law, outlining the terms of an agreement or contract.
Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs
Is the government ministry in Ghana responsible for making policies that promote and address the affairs and issues of women and children. It was created in 2001 by President Kufuor.
Morsi
Mohamed Morsi was the leader of the Freedom and Justice Party and Egypt’s first democratically elected president, serving from 30th June 2012 to 3rd July 2013. Morsi was overthrown by the Egyptian Revolution of 2013 after 7 months of protests and unrest. He was also a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood (Also see: Freedom and Justice Party, Egyptian Revolution of 2013 and Muslim Brotherhood).
Mubarak
President Hosni Mubarak was president of Egypt and leader of the ruling National Democratic Party from 1981 to 2011. His regime ruled as a semi-authoritarian state with sweeping powers of arrest, suppression of opposition and control of basic freedoms. He stepped down as President after the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. (Also see: National Democratic Party, Semi-Authoritarian and Egyptian Revolution of 2011).
Multi-Party System
A political system in which more than two political parties have the ability to successfully compete for government and have an influence in the state’s politics. (Also see: One-Party System)
Muslim Brotherhood
A transnational Islamic political organisation founded in Egypt in 1928. It is dedicated to the establishment of a nation based on Islamist principles, promoting strict moral discipline and opposing Western influence, often by violence. It was closely linked to the Freedom and Justice Party whose candidate Mohamed Morsi won the 2012 Presidential elections. With his overthrowing in 2013, the organisation is again suffering a crackdown in Egypt and has been declared a terrorist organisation by the new government (Also see: Islamist, Freedom and Justice Party and Egyptian Revolution of 2013).
National Council for Women (NCW)
Established in 2000 as an independent institution to advance the status of Egyptian women through social, economic and political empowerment. Under Mubarak’s regime the organisation was spearheaded by his wife Suzanne and had close ties to the NDP. After the Egyptian revolution of 2011, the council was reformed and 30 new members appointed in 2012 (Also see: Women’s Empowerment, Mubarak and National Democratic Party (NDP)).
National Council of Ghana Women
Established in 1960 with the consolidation of various women’s organisations to form the council, with the aim of pushing equal rights for women in all spheres of life in Ghana. It became part of the ruling Convention People’s Party and was disbanded in 1966 after the overthrow of the CPP government by a military coup.
National Council on Women and Development (NCWD)
Established in 1975 to serve as the official national organisation for advising the Ghanaian government on all issues relating to women. It collaborates with both national and international organisations, helping to raise awareness about gender issues in Ghana.
National Democratic Congress (NDC)
A political party in Ghana, founded by Jerry Rawlings in 1992. The party was in office with Jerry Rawlings as President of Ghana from 1992 until 2001, when the NDC lost the presidential election. (Also see: Jerry Rawlings).
National Democratic Party (NDP)
Was an Egyptian political party that wielded uncontested power in politics from its creation in 1978 until the resignation of President Mubarak due to the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. It was considered semi-authoritarian, with a one-party rule inside an officially multi-party system (Also see: Mubarak, Egyptian Revolution of 2011, Semi-authoritarian and One-Party System).
National Gender Strategy Plan
Aims to achieve gender equality, particularly in legislation, participation, representation, empowerment and the distribution of resources between men and women in Sierra Leone. (Also see: National Policy for the Advancement of Women).
National Policy for the Advancement of Women
A policy designed to support the advancement of women. This policy forms part of the Sierre Leone National Gender Strategy Plan.
Network for Women’s Rights Organisations (NWRO)
Launched in 2005 as the main partner of the Promotion of Women’s Rights Project. 12 Egyptian civil society organisations have joined the network, whose current focus is on reforming Family Law and combating violence against women (Also see: Civil society).
New Patriotic Party (NPP)
A political party in Ghana founded in 1992. Its candidate John Kufuor was elected president in 2001 and won again in the 2004 elections. (Also see: President Kufuor).
Non-Governmental Organisations
Are legally bound organisations that operate independently from any form of government.
Non-Partisan
Not supporting/biased towards any particular political group or party.
One-Party System
A type of state where a single party is the only party allowed to form the government, based on the constitution. Other parties are either illegal or only allowed to take a limited part in the election process.
Participation
The action of/opportunity to take part in something. Participation in politics and society allows the public to contribute and express their views on political, economic, environmental or social decisions in their communities and country.
Participatory Analysis
Analysis that evaluates data collected using public opinions relating to views on political, economic, environmental or social decisions.
Participatory Research
Research that collects public opinions and allows the public opportunities to contribute and express their views on political, economic, environmental or social decisions.
Personal Status Law
In Egypt, this law addresses issues of marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance through all stages.
Political Agency
The level to which a person can be active in political decision making.
Political Party Registration Commission
An independent governing and monitoring body set up to observe and evaluate the fairness of the electoral process in Sierra Leone.
Polygyny
When a man is allowed more than one wife.
Post-Colonialism
The period after independence is gained from the ruling colonial powers. (Also see: Post-independence).
Poverty
The lack of access to choices and opportunities, and violations of human dignity. Poverty means a lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society; not having enough money to feed and clothe a family, not having access to hospitals or schools, not having rights or ownership of land on which to grow food or having a job to earn a living, not having access to credit systems. It also means insecurity, powerlessness and the exclusion of individuals, households and communities. Poverty can also be created by living near fragile environments and not having access to clean water or sanitation and stable infrastructure.
President Kufuor
John Kufuor was President of Ghana from 2001 until 2009 when he was no longer able to run again for the presidency as he had served two terms, the maximum allowed. He ran with the New Patriotic Party. His election in 2001 marked the first peaceful transfer of power between governments since Ghanaian independence in 1957. (Also see: New Patriotic Party).
Primary Health Care
An approach to health beyond the traditional health care system that focuses on health, equality and social policy, including all areas that play a role in health, such as access to health services, environment and lifestyle.
Proportional Representation
An electoral system, which rewards parties by allocating seats proportionately to the number of votes that group or party receive. For example, under a PR voting system, if 30% of voters support a particular party and vote for them, then that party will win 30% of seats available in parliament. Non-PR systems, such as FPTP, tend to produce disproportionate outcomes for minority candidates, such as women, and have bias in favour of larger political groups. (See: First-Past-The-Post).
Public Mobility
The level to which a person can move freely within public spaces and exercise their rights and freedoms as citizens.
Quota
A quota in politics involves setting up a number or percentage for representation of a certain group, such as women, who are under-represented in politics. By 2006, around 40 countries had introduced quotas for women in elections to national parliaments, either by amending or changing electoral laws (legal quotas). In more than 50 countries major political parties have voluntarily set out quota rules. Quotas can be effective in redressing gender imbalance between men and women in politics. Millennium Development Goal 3 (MDG3) stated that the ‘proportion of seats held by women in national parliament’ is a key indicator in achieving gender equality (UN 2006). (Also see: Gender Equality Bill).
Re-democratisation
The action of making something democratic after a period of no/lack of democracy.
Reforms
Making changes in something in order to improve it.
Semi-authoritarian
A stable state or regime that combines both democratic and authoritarian features.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Established as a condition of the Lomé Peace Accord in the wake of the 11 year civil war in Sierre Leone. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's mandate was to "Create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law related to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone, from the beginning of the Conflict in 1991 to the signing of the Lomé Peace Agreement; to address impunity, to respond to the needs of the victims, to promote healing and reconciliation and to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered". (See: Lomé Peace Accord).
United Nations Development Programme
This is the United Nations' global development network, which advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP operates in 177 countries, working with nations on their own solutions to global and national development challenges.
Urfi
Unregistered/undocumented marriages in Egypt.
Welfare
The delivering of well-being and social support to the public, often in the form of financial support. Welfare can be provided by governments and by Non-Governmental Organisations such as, charities, social support groups, and religious groups. (Also see: Non-Governmental Organisations)
Women’s Empowerment
A process of transforming gender power relations, through individuals, groups or policy, which develops awareness of gender inequalities and supports building capacity and structures which challenge these inequalities.
Women’s Manifesto
Is a political statement by Ghanaian women demanding rights and equality. The statement was issued in 2004 and continues to influence women’s rights organisations in Ghana.
Women’s Movement
A women's movement (also known as a Feminist Movement + Women's Liberation) refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women's suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence, all of which fall under the label of feminism. The movement's priorities vary among nations and communities.
Women’s Rights Organisations
Organisations working to secure the rights of women in regions and across the world.
Women’s Solidarity Support Group
A coalition of activists and action-oriented women who seek to build solidarity and opportunities to advance the cause of women’s rights in Sierra Leone.