The Ministry of Information has explained that President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s recent comment that there has not been enough dynamism in the gender parity agenda of the country is not to denigrate the role of gender activists in the country.
Rather, it was aimed at getting enough women around the decision-making table to participate at the highest levels.
A statement signed by the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said “the President’s argument was that there needs to be dynamism in getting more women to put themselves up for office where it matters most”.
The President’s comment
The President made the comment at a conference in Canada recently where he called on Ghanaian women to step up efforts to get women into power at all levels of society.
He made the call when he contributed to a panel discussion on the topic: “Power, Progress, Change”, at the Women Deliver 2019, the world’s largest conference on gender equality, health, rights and the well-being of girls and women, which opened in Vancouver, Canada, last Monday.
The panellists, comprising Heads of State from three other countries, young leaders and grass-roots advocates, discussed how power could drive or hinder progress and change and how societies must redefine the concept of ‘power’ and use it as a force for good.
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President Akufo-Addo said the country had not seen enough dynamism by women to assume power and take charge of their own empowerment.
“Fifty-two per cent of the population are women,” he said, adding that “these statistics should count, but that will only happen when women sit round the table where the decisions are made”.
The President made the point that “if women don’t, for instance, put themselves up to be elected as candidates, then it is difficult to have a majority of them as ministers because at least half of my ministers, per the Constitution, must come from the legislature”.
However, the President’s comment has generated a lot of public debate in Ghana where, according to the Information Minister, “Some have taken issue with the President’s position on the matter and suggested that the President ought to have repeated the latest buzzword of feminists: of ‘women must be amplified.”
According to the statement, “whether the debate in the Western world is one about ‘amplification’ rather than ‘empowerment’ is a debate that may not necessarily put in a classroom the Ghanaian girl child whose parents have to choose between the girl and her brother as to which of the two they should spend money on and don’t have to put through secondary education”.
It said the President chose the path of the hard truth which might sound unpopular to feminists but remained a fact that “in the gender parity journey, we could do with a lot more dynamism where it matters most”.
More women appointed
Mr Oppong Nkrumah, in the statement, said the current government “has appointed more women than any other President in our nation’s history” and that his actions could be seen where it mattered most: “empowering the girl-child through education to be able to compete on equal terms, at least, by preparing them for the future”.
He said at least three key Cabinet positions of the government, that is, Attorney-General, Foreign Affairs and Local Government, were held by women.
It said the President had always been a firm believer that the path to effecting any change lay in getting hold of political power, and “that is why, for decades, he has been involved in the hurly-burly of politics seeking power to bring about the change he desires”.
It said one critical area which was getting enough women around the decision-making table to participate in decision-making at the highest of levels remained unattended to in the country.
According to the statement, the President sought to argue that advocates must also channel their energies towards getting women to take hold of the levers of power and decision-making, saying the “dynamism required has not been enough”.
It added that the President had also done a lot to amplify and empower women and he continued to believe in pushing women forward as much as possible.
However, it said “his argument is that what is needed next is to get increased dynamism that gets more women to step forward, even when not pushed”.
Enumerating some of the successes in the women front, the statement said under the President’s watch, the gender question had significantly improved and actions taken included the appointment of the first female Chief of Staff. Also the President ensured that the positions of Chief Justice and Cabinet Secretary were filled by competent women.
Also, 36 metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs), as well as some top executives of state-owned enterprises, were women.
It went further to state that President Akufo-Addo was the first to set up a specific fund to support women entrepreneurs with disability.
Also, it said, work was ongoing on an Affirmative Action Bill, as well as key amendments to the Interstate Succession Law to further empower women and eliminate discrimination against them.
“He is not against empowerment and not against amplification,” it said, adding: “He, more than many, has demonstrated his commitment to both.”