The Second Lady, Mrs Samira Bawumia, has charged women to rise up to their challenges by pushing for legislative and other reforms to make governments appoint women to various leadership positions in their countries.
"Women should be a voice for the people. They can be very powerful in changing society, considering their leadership qualities,” Mrs Bawumia said in her contribution to a panel discussion on "Women and Government" at Yale University in Connecticut, United States (US).
It was organised by Yale Association for African Peace and Development, a group of Yale undergraduates who bring together scholars, professionals and activists who are integral in the pursuit of systematic advancement and development.
She noted that women did not necessarily need the permission of men to fight for their cause, but once they start, the men would facilitate and support them to achieve their objectives.
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She stated: “Statistical studies have shown that the more women participate in leadership positions, the more women will be there."
Mentor young women
Buttressing her point that women occupy very important leadership positions in Ghana, Mrs Bawumia cited the current Chief Justice and the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission as part of the many other women in leadership positions in the Executive, the Legislature or the Judiciary.
The Second Lady spoke highly of Ghana's Ambassador to the United Nations, Mrs Martha Pobee, for being one of such highly qualified women who excelled in her work and was, therefore, recognised and given a very important leadership role in society.
"We need to mentor young women by leading exemplary lives to inspire them. Whatever you do, put in your best. You have an audience, do it well, they will recognise you," Mrs Bawumia stated.
She gave an assurance that she would use her persuasive power to affect the lives of people.
"I am having meetings with people who want to support what we are doing to improve lives, to reduce the level of deprivation and poverty among some of our people and to improve the existing health facilities to prevent maternal deaths,” she noted.
She acknowledged that certain societal pressures and stereotypes were to be blamed for militating against the appointment of women into leadership positions.
That, according to her, was why education was very paramount.
Women in Parliament
A co-panellist, the Rwandan Ambassador to the US, Professor Mathilde Mukantabana, said the cornerstone of her country's accelerated development was the high number of women in Parliament.
She noted that 64 per cent of the Parliamentarians were women. In addition, 12 out of the 32-member Cabinet Ministers were women.
She said drawing important lessons from the Rwandan genocide in 1994 that affected their economic, political and other aspects of social life, "we decided that women's rights were critical so we set up the structures right from the village, communities to the central government level.”
“For the past 23 years, we have tried to build reconciliation. Our mentality shift came about because our laws were changed, the issue of inheritance and other negative structures were tackled through vigorous education campaigns," she pointed out.
She said: "Definitely, education is going to be the hope for Africa.”
"Today there is a new generation of Rwandan women who are for change. Those who are there have proved themselves. They have overcome the problem of fear, our President is a champion of women," Prof. Mathilde Mukantabana stated.