The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection at the weekend paid tribute to gallant Ghanaian women who partnered the “BIG Six” and other freedom fighters during the independence struggle.
“We remember Mabel Dove Danquah, a freedom fighter, political activist and a prolific journalist and writer who used her skills to not only challenge colonial rule, but also male dominance over women.
“She became the first female member of the Legislative Assembly in 1954 in the Gold Coast, the first African woman to be elected by adult suffrage,” the Gender Ministry stated in a statement signed by Nana Oye Lithur, the sector Minister to the Ghana News Agency at the weekend.
The statement was to mark the United Nations International Women’s Day celebration on March 8, to acknowledge “the social, economic and political achievements of women, and draw attention to the inequalities that hinder our advancement and campaign for change.”
The Gender Ministry also acknowledged Justice Ruth Annie Jiagge, who rose through the ranks from being the first female Magistrate to the first female judge of the Court of Appeal in 1969, which was at the time, the highest court in Ghana.
She served as the President of the Court of Appeal from 1980- 1983, and was very instrumental in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
She also served on the Advisory Board and offered immense guidance in the preparation for the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995.
Ms Susanna Alhassan was a politician, who became one of the first female parliamentarian and Minister in 1961, a beneficiary of the Representation of Peoples Act of 1960.
She was appointed from 1961-1963 as the Deputy Minister of Education and then subsequently in 1963-1966 and in 1967 as the Minister of Social Affairs.
In 1984, former President Jerry John Rawlings appointed her to the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).
The Gender Ministry also noted that, under Dr Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana, ten women were elected unopposed to Parliament in June 1960.
They were, Mrs. Susana Alhassan, Mrs. Ayanori Bukari, Ms. Victoria Nyarko, Sophia Doku, Mary Koranteng, Regina Asamany, Grace Ayensu, Christiana Wilmot, Comfort Asamoah and Lucy Anim.
“By this act, Ghana became one of the first African countries to introduce a quota system for women. We also recall the living heroine Theodosia Okoh, who beautifully designed our national flag,” Nana Oye Lithur stated.
“We the women of Ghana are proud to have a female Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, and the immediate past speaker of Parliament, Right Honourable Joyce Adelaide Bamford Addo.
“For the first time in Ghana, the highest numbers of women have been appointed in Government by our President, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama in Cabinet and across all levels of governance.
“His Excellency has shown Government’s commitment to gender equality. Some of the key appointments include: Eight Cabinet Ministers holding the portfolios of Foreign Affairs, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Education, Health, Culture and Tourism, Gender Children and Social Protection, and Transport”.
Other portfolios headed by women are: Chairperson of the Council of State, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Director General of the Ghana Aids Commission, Controller and Accountant General, Statistical Service, Director General of Prisons, Chair of the National Commission for Civic Education, Executive Director of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and the Commissioner of CHRAJ.
The Gender Ministry also acknowledged the contribution of Hillary Gbedemah, currently the UN Chair of CEDAW, Prof Akua Kueyehia, Vice President of the International Criminal Court, Prof Henrietta Mensah Bonsu, who was second in command of the UN in Liberia and Prof Florence Dolphyne, the first female professor.
In the corporate, business and financial world, women in Ghana continue to make inroads; Nana Oye Lithur stated, acknowledging the role of Esther Ocloo and Gloria Nikoi, Ms Esther Cobbah, Ellen Hagan, Fio Enterprise and Theresa Oppong Beeko.
The newly appointed Managing Directors of Barclays, United Bank of Africa and Merchant Bank are but a few women making positive change.
“How can we forget our female Heads of second cycle institutions? Mrs Rosina Acheampong of Wesley Girls High School, Mrs Agyemang of Holy Child School, Mrs Sowah of St Marys School, the Catholic nuns of OLA Secondary school, in Ho and Kenyase and several others, who are educating and nurturing our young girls.”
“Today we have cause to celebrate our female educationists, Heads of schools, the non-teaching staff without whose efforts most of us would not be here today.
“Our female artistes have contributed immensely to the arts and culture landscape of Ghana, together with our women in fashion.
“One young rising Ghanaian fashion designer, Duaba Serwa, is a shooting star. Duaba Serwa attended Ridge Church School, Achimota School, and University of Ghana, where she studied nursing.
“We salute you all, as we welcome our traditional leaders, led by Yaa Asantewaa, Awo Dede, Nana Dokua and several female queenmothers, who blazed the trail decades before independence.
Queenmothers are once again at the threshold of making history, as for the first time, queenmothers are to be admitted into the National and Regional Houses of Chiefs.
“Our lady Pastors led by Lady Pastor Christy Doe Tetteh, Honourable Gifty Affenyi Dadzi, Ms Joyce Aryee, our Moslem female leaders, led by Honourable Rabiatu Ammah, traditionalists, have held together the moral and religious fabric of our dear nation, strengthening our hand with prayers.
“Our young women and girls who are here are working hard to achieve their full potentials spared on by their mentors. Happy International Women’s day,” the statement concluded.