News Desk Report
Women in Ghana has heavily descended on the President of the Republic, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo over his ‘loose’ statement he made in Vancouver, Canada during a gender conference.
Following his comments which has been described by many including women’s rights organizations, groups, politicians among others as a monumental disgrace to Ghana.
To this end, the National Women Organizer for the largest opposition National Democratic Congress NDC) Dr. Hannah Bissiw is calling on the President to apologize to womenfolk in Ghana and across the globe for despising womanhood.
Below is the full statement from the madam Bissiw.
INSULTING AND CONDESCENDING COMMENTS MADE AGAINST GHANAIAN WOMEN BY PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO AT A GENDER CONFERENCE IN VANCOUVER, CANADA
THE NATIONAL WOMEN ORGANIZER OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (NDC)
Thursday, 6th June, 2019.
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen of the press.
The Women’s Wing of the National Democratic Congress extends its thanks to you for your presence here today, to present our position in respect of the appalling submissions made by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo – President of the Republic of Ghana, at a recent Gender Conference – “Women Deliver 2019” held in Vancouver, Canada.
The NDC’s Women’s Wing, join the totality of women AND progressive men in Ghana, in expressing our shock, disbelief and revulsion at comments made by our President at that event. Ladies and Gentlemen, the extent of national and international embarrassment we now face as a nation, is magnified not only because our President is supposed to be an award-winning gender activist, but it is also made all the more alarming by the fact that the “Women Deliver 2019” International Gender Conference is the largest conference on gender equality, the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women in the 21st century.
It is nothing short of a monumental disgrace to find that as the rest of the world and its leaders are tapping into and celebrating more gender inclusiveness, our President, Nana Akufo-Addo, is reinforcing stereotypes regarding women’s participation in leadership that have long been abandoned.
That global platform would have been a glorious opportunity to project the great exploits and strengths of the Ghanaian woman’s unique social, cultural corporate and political leadership skills. We would have hoped that at best, it would have been a tremendous opportunity for President Akufo-Addo to showcase the contributions of successive governments, in appointing capable women to positions of leadership and responsibility in this country’s history. Indeed, a worst case scenario would have been to highlight his own efforts in his administration to enhance women empowerment in Ghana. It is pathetic to see, that all President Akufo-Addo could do, was feign ignorance about the implicit role required by men to create opportunities without apology for capable Ghanaian women and close the massive gender gaps that are doing nothing to move development in this country forward.
The focus of this gender dialogue which took place under the banner “Women Deliver”, could not have been more apt. The awe-inspiring success stories of women all over the globe, in various fields of endeavour speak audibly about how inspirational women have contributed to world progress. However, as the world continues to celebrate women, the President of Ghana thinks otherwise of Ghanaian women, and on that occasion, President Akufo-Addo did not clothe the Ghanaian woman in any glory at all.
Having been given a major opportunity on a global stage to project the great exploits and strength of the Ghanaian woman, and to further elaborate on what measures his administration is adopting to enhance women empowerment in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo did not hesitate to run down the Ghanaian woman and denigrate her in the most debasing manner on a global stage.
Friends from the media, when asked about the state of women empowerment in Ghana, these were the exact words of President Akufo-Addo:
“The most important thing is power,… but Ghanaian women have not shown enough dynamism and activism to deserve a place on the decision-making table”.
As if the above words were not condescending and insulting enough, the President further declared boldly that
“Not enough movement has been made by women in Ghana.”
Ladies and gentlemen as you can see clearly, the world was not invited by President Akufo-Addo to recognize the excellence of Ghanaian female leadership, because according to our own President, Ghanaian women have done very little to deserve a place in national decision-making. What a travesty!
Clearly, President Akufo-Addo was clueless and uninformed. He displayed next-to-no-knowledge about the subject, and even when he was prompted by one of his female co-panelists, who strenuously sought to correct his preposterous misrepresentations on that platform, he adamantly touted his half-baked Free SHS as a gender empowerment tool of his government and lied about 30% of his cabinet being female.
Our painstaking investigations have revealed that out of his nineteen (19) Cabinet Ministers, only five (5) of them are women, which represents 26% of Cabinet, and not 30% as he claimed. How could the President get this basic fact wrong? Could it be part of his mere lip service and rhetoric about women empowerment?
Ladies and gentlemen, President Akufo-Addo’s remarks have caused irreparable and incalculable damage to the reputation of the Ghanaian woman. Global news networks such as the BBC and others have amplified the views of our President, thereby escalating the shame and embarrassment that these comments have brought to all women in Ghana.
Perhaps, the most debilitating effect of our President’s reckless talk, is what those comments have done to the age-old struggle for female empowerment in Ghana. Elsewhere, such comments from President Akufo-Addo could kill the spirit and soul of gender empowerment activism. However, the tsunami of voices of protestation from Ghanaian women demonstrates that we are well past being cowered into accepting such verbal abuse as women and as key players in our national development journey.
Distinguished friends from the media, to imagine that the above comments reflect the inner thinking of President Akufo-Addo on Ghanaian women, is frightening to say the least. Gender mainstreaming has assumed a global center-stage for years now. Since the Fourth Women Conference held in Beijing in 1995, which focused on “Action for Equality, Development and Peace”, a lot of work has been done in Ghana by successive governments and gender activists to achieve gender equality. Therefore, for President Akufo-Addo to opine that the 51.2% of women in Ghana have achieved nothing in terms of activism or advocacy to merit a place on the decision making table, is most disappointing and a colossal embarrassment!
We wish to remind President Akufo-Addo that, Ghana continues to celebrate her illustrious female heroes such as, Yaa Asantewa that great warrior, Dr Mary Grant, Hajia Adiza Mumkaila, Madam Susana Alhasan, Theodosia Okoe, Esther Ocloo, Prof. Efua Sutherland, Prof. Ama Atta Aidoo among others. Ghana has had a female Speaker before, in the person of the Right Honourable Joyce Bamford-Addo of Parliament; and two successive female Chief Justices, Her Ladyship Georgina Theodora Wood and Her Ladyship Sophia Akuffo. An endless list of contemporaries such as Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, Prof. Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu, Hon. Marietta Brew Appiah Oppong, Hon. Hannah Tetteh, Dr. Joyce Aryee, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, Mrs. Lucy Quist, Mrs. Patricia Obo-Nai and Mrs. Mawuena Trebarh to name but very few, who have all staked a rightful claim to national and historical prominence as trailblazers in female leadership in this country.
Is President Akufo-Addo suggesting in any way that these illustrious women and the millions of others out there have not done enough to deserve a place on the decision-making table? Is he suggesting that these great women, not excluding his own wife, Her Excellency Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Chief of Staff Madam Akosua Frema Opare and his five daughters, did not rise to their status by dint of their hard work or advocacy skills? I leave the judgment to the Ghanaian people.
It is sad to underscore the fact that, President Akufo-Addo has reinforced the sense of patriarchy that is already entrenched in the Ghanaian society. Rural woman in Ghana are the fulcrum of the rural economy, yet they continue to suffer from outdated cultural practices such as land ownership and countless other institutionalized forms of chauvinism.
Despite the fact that women in Ghana have had to contend with male chauvinistic tendencies across all spheres of endeavour, despite the structural and systemic challenges that prevent women from reaching their desired heights, women in Ghana have defied all odds to achieve great feats in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Politics, Education, Mathematics etc. It is therefore unfortunate that President Akufo-Addo could not elevate and celebrate Ghanaian women on an international platform, but rather sought to talk down to us.
If anyone ever doubted that President Akufo-Addo cares less about women, then one should observe his nonchalant posture on the matter of the three missing Takoradi girls. Despite all the public outcry, and subsequent comedy of errors by state security actors, President Akufo-Addo has remained unperturbed about this disturbing occurrence and not even made a formal public statement on the matter.
We wish to remind President Akufo-Addo that women and the girl-child still face real challenges in Ghana today. Many young girls are still being harassed, whilst many of them stay out of school due to unavailability of sanitary pads, an intervention his party ridiculed under his leadership when they were in opposition. Many women still suffer sexual harassment in their workplaces, whilst several others have their promotions delayed for unjustifiable reasons beyond their refusal to give in to unwarranted sexual advances and other forms of intimidation directed at women. These are the germane issues we expected President Akufo-Addo to address on such an important platform.
Mr. President, what the Ghanaian woman deserves is equal opportunity, and a level playing field to realize her God-given capabilities. We the women of Ghana are not calling for sympathy or opportunities to be handed to us simply because we are women. No! We deserve equity and fairness. We were created with the inner strength and ability to compete and provided where there are no artificial barriers in our way.
Everywhere else in the world, countries interested in progress for their people are holding the doors wide open for excellent women to lead. It makes good business sense, good social sense and good development sense. Perhaps it is well past time for you to wake up to that reality if you are genuinely interested in seeing this country move forward. We implore you to rid yourself of those pre-historic ideas about women’s participation in leadership and start to act like you know we can be powerful partners in moving this country forward for BOTH men and women!
Mr. President, you have embarrassed Ghanaian women in no uncertain terms on a global stage. You need to redeem yourself and render an unqualified apology to all the womenfolk in Ghana. The earlier you do this, the better for your already dwindled reputation.
We also call on the general public to use this event as a starting point to discuss and put forth ideas to improve gender balance. Even if our President does not believe that “Women Deliver” we do.
God bless Ghanaian women and God bless our homeland Ghana.
DR. HANNAH-LOUISA BISSIW
(National Women Organizer, NDC)