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US government honours Charlotte Osei with 2016 Woman of Courage Award

Author: Kate Baaba Hudson
US government honours Mrs. Charlotte Osei with 2016 Woman of Courage Award
US government honours Mrs. Charlotte Osei with 2016 Woman of Courage Award

The United States (US) has honoured the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Charlotte Osei as ‘Woman of Courage for 2017’.

The US Embassy in Accra presented the award to Mrs Osei, in recognition of her work in managing the administration of a transparent and credible election for the country in 2016, despite challenges, as well as her efforts to boost inclusion and civic engagement.

The ceremony was attended by the wife of the US Ambassador, Mrs B. Jackson, representatives of the US government, the EC, the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), as well as members of the diplomatic corps, civil society and selected Ghanaians.

Presenting her with the award, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert P. Jackson said: “Overseeing the logistics of the election was a daunting task and the stakes could not have been higher.”

“Before, during and after the 2016 election, she faced a tremendous amount of scrutiny, under which many would have buckled. And not all of the criticism were constructive or about the political process; she faced a number of personal, baseless and inappropriate attacks,” the ambassador observed.

Fair process

“But regardless, she persisted, using her conscience, her expertise in Ghanaian law and her determination to uphold a democratic and fair process as her guide,” Mr Jackson noted.

Ambassador Jackson commended Mrs Osei for her commitment to a democratic Ghana and said, “Throughout her life, Charlotte Osei has made a name for herself as a trailblazing woman and defender of democracy.” 

Acceptance speech

Receiving the award, the EC chairperson was “truly grateful for the honour and the privilege” and thanked all those who have been part of her journey.

Mrs Osei said she owed her award of courage to the resilient women of Ghana who were working daily to overcome male chauvinism and patriarchy in all its forms from the micro to the macro level of the society, adding that she was inspired daily by their refusal to accept the status quo and to dare to make a difference. 

She said there were many days in the last two years when she felt very heavily the burden of leadership, the weight, as it seemed, of carrying the entire peace and stability of the nation on her shoulders.

Mrs Osei said in those very trying moments, the values of truth, integrity, honesty and fairness, which her parents instilled in her from her childhood, kept her focused on delivering on her promise to the people of Ghana.

“But through it all, I could always count on the love and support of my husband, my children and my friends. I lost a lot of acquaintances, but I gained a lot of true friends. And for that, I recognise that I am a very blessed person,” she stated.

In spite of all the challenges, obstacles, attacks and hurdles she has faced in her six-year journey in public service, she still truly believes that “it is a great honour and a privilege to serve one’s country and it is a special privilege to serve in the capacity of the chairperson of the EC,” she added.