The country’s first female permanent representative to the United Nations says she is determined to work hard to make a mark to maintain the confidence of the President, John Dramani Mahama, and successive presidents in appointing competent women into key positions.
Mrs Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, who is the 22nd Ghanaian to be appointed to hold the position since 1948, said that would contribute to upholding the image of women as being equally competent as men.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in New York, Mrs Pobee was optimistic that the strides she would make in her current position, together with that of other female appointees in and out of Ghana, would go a long way to sustain confidence in the competence and the capabilities of women, regardless of their positions.
Mrs pobee reiterated a promise she made on her appointment to work hard not to disappoint the President, the country and women as a whole.
According to her, women’s issues had assumed international dimensions over the years, particularly, after the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing, China in September 1995.
The conference ended with the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights which had remained a powerful source of inspiration and guidance to governments and institutions.
She expressed profound gratitude to her predecessors for laying a good foundation for the operations of Ghana’s mission to the UN and acknowledged that whatever success she would chalk would be based on that foundation.
“There is enough goodwill here in New York as a result of the work done by my predecessors. I am hoping to build on what they have done,” she said, describing the goodwill as a good basic foundation to start on.
Capabilities of women
Mrs Pobee expressed the believe in the adage that “whatever a man can do, a woman can also do” and quite often do it better. She was, however, quick to note that the women community respected the competence and capabilities of men and, therefore, had no intention of undermining them.
So far, she said, her new role had been smooth and exciting with the help of the team at the mission who had kept the fort all this while.
For her, even though the work of the UN permanent representative was a demanding job, her role would be more demanding as she doubles as Ghana’s Ambassador to the UN.
Ghana's Permanent Mission of the UN is the primary channel for communications between the Ghana Government and the United Nations in New York City.
While expressing her gratitude to the staff of the mission, she acknowledged that achieving any meaningful strides without the team and team work would virtually be impossible.
Female country representatives
She said, “The UN so far has 45 female permanent representatives who are very well-networked and connected with an ongoing solidarity to discharge their respective mandates and ensure that all of them meet the expectations of their respective countries,”.
That, she said, gave her good company, premise and the confidence that she would make it at all cost in her current position.
She said whatever positions women found themselves would require hard work and self dedication to make the requisite expectation and successes.
Her current position, according to her, coupled with her role as a wife and a mother made it more challenging, but was quick to add that was not a hurdle she could not surmount.
“I have combined these roles over the years and I know my new responsibility would not be an exception,” she said.
She added that women needed to be confident and, “if we put to use our God-given intuitive nature, capable of playing different roles simultaneously, we would succeed where many have failed”.
Mrs Pobee called on all women to be more confident in themselves and support each other to maintain national and global confidence in women, stressing that she looked forward to all the challenges, opportunities and the successes related to her appointment in the future.
Mrs Pobee said her focus was to work towards the attainment of what the country intended to see or gain out of its relationship with the UN and the help Ghana could also offer to the operations of the world body.
Sustainable Development Goals
On the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Mrs Pobee said, Ghana and Africa as a whole, was poised to implement them efficiently.
She said it was evident that the time was now or never to achieve the goals of the SDGs aimed at eradicating poverty, hunger, disease among other objectives, if the world did not want posterity to judge it badly.
Mrs Pobee said even though there had been so many concerns relating to how the implementation of the SDGs would be financed, it had to be done, hence, Ghana and Africa as a whole needed to find the resources to do it.
Addis Ababa discussions
She said discussions leading to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, established that Africa had enough resources collectively to implement the SDGs effectively.
Mrs Pobee said the Addis Ababa discussions recommended that if illicit flow of funds from the continent, which was far more than what Africa was receiving as development aid from the Western world was curtailed, it would have more than enough to implement the SDGs and to develop the continent.
On Wednesday, July 22, 2015, President John Dramani Mahama appointed Mrs Pobee to her new position.
The appointment comes not long after the first woman, in the person of Mrs Charlotte Osei, the immediate past Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), was appointed to head Ghana's Electoral Commission (EC).
Mention can also be made of Madam Grace Francisca Adzoe, the Controller and Accountant General, Mrs Matilda Baffour-Awua, the Director of the Ghana Prison Service, Dr Philomena Nyarko, the Government Statistician, and the Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr Angela El-Adas.
Through diplomacy, negotiation and daily monitoring of the UN activities, Mrs Pobee is expected to work to advance Ghana's interests, promote international development, security and human rights, and keep the government informed of developments in multilateral relations.
She also will lead the mission to conduct relations with representatives of the other 193 UN member states, observer missions, non-governmental organisations and the staff of the United Nations Secretariat.
The mission also works together with the New York-based UN programmes and funds such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).