Democracy refers to a form of government in which authority is bestowed on the people to choose their governing legislation. This is to say that decision-making in an institution or country rests on the shoulders of the members. Merits of such governance are freedom of assembly and speech, inclusiveness, equality, membership, voting, human rights etc.
The term “Democracy” appeared in the 5th century BC to denote the political systems that had existed in the then Greek city states specifically, Athens and it meant the rule of the people. Democracy contrasts with other forms of government where power is either held by an individual or by a small number of individuals. Additionally, Direct and Representative are generally the two types of democracy. In a Direct Democracy, the people directly deliberate and choose a preferred legislation whereas Representative Democracy is where people elect representatives to deliberate and choose a legislation on their behalf.
Democracy is one of the highly recognised core principles of the United Nations (UN) because it provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realisation of human rights. In their efforts to promote democracy in societies around the world, the UN embark on significant activities such as monitoring elections, working to strengthen democratic institutions and accountability, and assisting nations recovering from conflict to develop their own constitutions.
The International Day of Democracy was instituted by the United Nations and is celebrated annually on September 15 to educate the public about democracy and on such day, different activities and events such as round table discussions, public education campaigns, seminars, conferences etc. are held worldwide to promote the ideals of democracy. This helps people learn more about the relationship between freedom of expression and tolerant culture. Also, one major significance of observing the International Democracy Day is that it serves as an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world regarding its participation and support by various bodies.
Moreover, as the International Day of Democracy is celebrated today, we need to appreciate women who have stepped up to the plate in the political arena. It is worthy to recognise few women like Madam Brigette Dzogbenuku, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and Akua Donkor who are presidential aspirants, and Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman who is a running mate. The importance of women leadership in the political space is that it makes decision-making stronger and contributes to a more representative governance. Women’s minimal leadership role in the political spheres remains a serious concern, thus, we need to step it up for gender equality in politics by encouraging more female leadership representation. We also need to create a conducive environment for women to overcome the barriers to their equal and active political participation.
The practice of Democracy in Ghana has led to free and fair elections over the years and this is noteworthy as aspects of people’s lives change when they are accurately represented in their leadership. As the International Day of Democracy is being observed today, we should reflect on the current state of our country’s democracy and think of ways we can improve our participation in the collective-decision making of our country and support the principles of democracy.