opinionBy Yao Dagadu
Women, today, have more opportunities for education and stronger legal rights in many countries. They are taking leadership positions in local communities and stand at the forefront of many organizations which seek to better the welfare of women and children in society.
In Ghana, especially, under the NPP government, great strides have been made to improve upon the welfare of women in our society.
From time to time especially in this growing and challenging environment, it is important to take stock of how women's status have changed over the years, where they stand today and why it even matters to examine their status in our society.
A very significant achievement worth mentioning is the establishment of a Ministry for Women and Children's Affairs, a Cabinet Ministry, headed by Hajia Alima Mahama. The ministry has made a lot of strides in protecting the rights of women and children in the Ghanaian society. Examples include the curbing of child trafficking and the introduction of the Domestic Violence Bill. Though some pessimists might be quick to state that the creation of the Ministry alone will not greatly enhance and protect the welfare of women, it is obvious from what the Ministry has done so far that this is not really the case.
As if the establishment of the MWCA was not enough, The President has appointed a woman, Ms. Gloria Akuffo (a lawyer) to be Minister of Aviation. The aviation sector as most may be aware is loaded with many problems which undoubtedly require special attention. The appointment of a lady to head this ministry is a true reflection of the president's respect of the female gender and his quest to ensure that they take their rightful positions in society.
It can be recalled fondly the extra mile the NPP government went to assist the Ghana Journalist association then headed by a lady, Mrs. Gifty Afenyi-Dadzie to put up the International press center. It was the NPP government that gave land and seed money to undertake the project. The significance? The NPP government recognized the leadership qualities of this lady and went all out to assist her achieve success. Today Mrs. Afenyi-Dadzie is a member of the Council of State, the august body established by the constitution to advice the president on various matters pertaining to government.
Another very important position occupied by a woman under the NPP Government is that of Commissioner of Human Rights and Administrative Justice which is currently occupied by Ms. Anna Bossman. The Commission has gone great lengths to protect the rights of women and children. The Commission just recently instituted measures to protect young girls who are sometimes beaten to death for refusing to marry (Saturday December 23, 2006 edition of The Spectator). The enormous responsibility that rests on this lady cannot be over-emphasized.
Kumasi is the second largest city in the country and one of the most difficult cities to manage. Today, under the NPP government, the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly is being managed by its first lady Municipal Chief Executive in the person of Miss Patricia Appiah- Agyei.
No government which has the sincere interest of its people at heart will go out to appoint an inefficient person to a position in a municipality where it commands a lot of votes. That will be political suicide. If this is not respect for the leadership qualities of a woman, then what else is? Also significant is the elevation of a Ghanaian woman to the status of First Vice-President of the International Criminal Court. This is a big plus for the NPP government. The respected lady has a country of origin (Ghana) and in such cases a good word from the government of her country facilitates such appointments. The list can go on and on.
Definitely, readers of this piece will make comments like there are fewer female representation in this government's cabinet and other ministerial positions, municipal and district assemblies, fewer female representation in parliament, etc., but one must be quick to observe that the few top positions occupied by women in Ghana today, carry a lot of weight and if they come together to advance the cause of women in Ghana, then, facilitated by the NPP government, the model face of gender equality will be born in Ghana.