Despite this, women had a relatively strong presence in the Ghana Cabinet. There are countless reasons for this. The Ghanaian constitution allows the president to bring together offices of up to 49% of non-parliamentary members. In addition, the country's repeated international commitments to gender equality appear to have influenced the appointment of female cabinet ministers.
The women's autonomous movement in Ghana used these commitments to pressure presidents to include women in their executive teams.
Significant political implications
Political scientists Amy Atchison and Ian Down have shown that the presence of women in the cabinet is important. The greater the share of ministerial seats that women control, the greater the likelihood of a state promoting policies that improve the lives of women.
Atchison and Down found that this effect was stronger than the effect of women's participation in legislative seats. We expect it to be even stronger in cases where executive actors dominate legislatures. In addition, the symbolic effect of observing a Defense Minister directing a "sea of generals" can be transformative.
That is why keeping a watchful eye on the inclusion of women in the Executive is important. Recent data from across the continent show a general fall in the representation of the Women's Bureau. This suggests that while Cabinet seats have substantial political advantage, they may also be fainter than legislative seats. Women's legislative gains are often blocked through quotas, but the presence of women in the offices is often linked to the ruling party and the leader of the government.
Melinda Adams and John Scherpereel are political science professors at James Madison University, USA