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General News of Monday, 16 March 2015

Source: The Enquirer

Stop treating women as second-class citizens - Konadu Rawlings

Former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings says adopting a passive role as a First Lady is not an option for her because she is convinced that women in Ghana hold the key to unleashing national potentials.

Controversial as it was, she said she fought against the perceived status quo in Ghanaian society that placed women as second-class citizens.

She stated that in Africa, women contribute over 60% of agricultural output and yet are not the major beneficiaries.

“In Ghana, our rural women plough the land, they cultivate the farms with their children on their back, wake up at dawn to fetch water for their families; they are the custodians of our culture and our way of life and yet are denied the equal opportunity to contribute to the development of their communities.

“I challenged women to view themselves as equal contributing factors in our socio-economic development. I demanded that women nurture an active interest in their own affairs. I urged them to show initiative in the development of their communities by establishing income-generating activities and participating in decision-making,” she elaborated.

She made these assertions when she showed up as the first guest to Airtel Ghana’s month-long talk series for International Women’s Month.

She charged women to speak up against violence and discrimination in their homes and workplaces.

“We must stand up for our rights, believe in our own capabilities and capacities as women,” she stressed.

She said she envisions a world where women and young girls have equal rights to education, to earn income, equal right to participate in politics and live freely from violence and other forms of discrimination.

She urged Airtel to incorporate women’s concerns and needs into its company policies just as decades ago business practices acknowledged those of men.

The Managing Director of Airtel Ghana, Mrs Lucy Quist, said the International Women’s Day (IWD) to Airtel means a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate act of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played extraordinary role in their communities and countries.

She explained that Airtel Ghana’s theme for IWD this year - Make It Happen - seeks to encourage effective action for advancing, encouraging and recognising women in all fields of endeavour, while recognising women as agents of change in our various roles.

Mrs Quist said Airtel strongly believes in the power of potential; therefore every woman in society is imbued with the potential to succeed in whatever they put their mind to.

“Our position as a corporate responsible organisation is to ensure that we can assist and unearth untapped potential through our various CSR activities,” she adds.

She noted that Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings has been described as a quintessential advocate of women’s empowerment, wife and mother to four children.

She said she has consistently displayed and exercised leadership, demonstrated vision, innovation and creativity and the courage to tackle calculated risks.

“She has also enriched and improved the quality of many women and that is why we invite her for this talk,” she explained.

All around the world, IWD represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.