Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings has been on a mission since 1982 to empower a generation, one woman at a time. Today, she is the first female presidential candidate of Ghana on the ticket of the National Democratic Party (NDP).
Her candidature has undoubtedly inspired other women and paved the way for women in politics to run for the highest office in Ghana.
She started with women
As the Founder and President of the 31st December Women’s Movement (DWM), a grassroot non-governmental organisation (NGO), Nana Konadu is a firm believer that women hold the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. For nearly three decades, she has been at the forefront of women empowerment. As Ghana’s First Lady (1981 – 2001), Nana Konadu criss-crossed the globe raising a new level of awareness on gender issues in Africa. Through her skilful ability to achieve concrete, measurable results and convey them on platforms globally, she gained international prominence as a leading activist for African women.
Mobilising more than two million women across Ghana—from small-scale, village level, economic projects to standing for parliamentary elections, the 31st DWM became one of Ghana’s earliest and most successful examples of a progressive grassroots women’s movement. Since its inception in 1982, Nana Konadu has been the first wife of an African Head of State to use an organisational platform to systematically fight gender inequality and empower millions of women across Ghana and beyond.
A lineage of doers and thinkers
Nana Konadu Agyeman (maiden name) was born in Cape Coast in Ghana’s Central Region on November 17, 1948. She is a direct descendant of the Asante Royal family in Kumasi, the former centre of an empire that once controlled much of present-day Ghana. Both her mother and father hail from a long line of royal ancestry with a proud tradition of leadership.
Activist First Lady
Nana Konadu, while as First Lady, stirred a national debate over what role a Head of State’s wife should play. In spite of much criticism, she insisted on developing a more dynamic life. She forged a new identity for herself by engaging in meaningful political activity. She became wife, mother, activist and first lady.
A committed and progressive Nana Konadu successfully formulated and influenced legislative policies against human rights abuses such as trokosi, child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) that have historically and traditionally subjugated women in Ghana. However, she didn’t stop there. “We recognised that for women to be really empowered for development, we needed to make them economically active. So we developed small-scale business models such as cassava processing plants, as well as other self-sustaining businesses such as vegetable cultivation, batik making, pottery design and soap production. By securing local and international donor funds, we were able to offer women some seed money to establish businesses. Through these projects run by women in the communities, whole families in communities witnessed an increase in their disposable income,” she noted.
Her mission to empower a nation
After more than 30 years of contributing to the development of urban and rural communities in Ghana, Nana Konadu knows first-hand the meaning of true grassroots democracy where the people of Ghana are empowered to decide their own developmental objectives. She is on a mission to empower Ghanaians under her party’s manifesto,
“Bold Actions to put Ghana Right Again.”
In her words, “I am committed to laying the foundations of a prosperous future for Ghana so that all Ghanaians can have the confidence in a country built on a system that rewards their hard work and their sacrifice. I believe in creating a Ghana where mothers and fathers have the opportunity to invest in the future of their children; where Ghanaian genius is rewarded and where meritocracy is paramount. I believe in a thriving economy that creates equal opportunity for every Ghanaian.”