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Opinions of Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Columnist: Afeku, Catherine

A Clarion Call To Raise And Groom More Hawa Yakubus

It was with great sadness and shock when the news of Madam Hawa Yakubu’s death hit the airwaves. Every Ghanaian who knew her either by personal contact or from a distance was equally bereaved.

The Iron Lady as she was affectionately called had in her short life touched so many people in Ghana and beyond our borders with her ECOWAS appointment and her role in women leadership. Madam Hawa started from humble beginnings according to the numerous tributes we have been reading of her since her untimely death. She was one of five girls and was lucky to be educated; she took that cue and helped two of her own siblings to get emancipated through education. She realized that Education was the exit ticket from poverty, ignorance and gender discrimination.

Many of the accolades and praises in her memory all pointed to one thing, she was extremely generous and philanthropic. She was also very brave and courageous and stood in the gap for all the voiceless during the 1990s and won a seat through her hard work to be the lone star in Parliament as the Independent candidate who took on the NDC.

The courage that Madam Hawa Yakubu demonstrated during her days as the lone voice in Parliament is what I want to talk about. There has been a lot of debate and forums on women’s participation in our political deliberations since 1992, and indeed in recent times, our District Assemblies had a great impetus to encourage women to participate in leadership at the grassroots level, but the ingredient missing in most of the young and able women who had the desire to be a part of the decision making bodies was COURAGE, the courage to face adversity even when you were taunted and ridiculed, the courage to withstand negativity was something Madam Hawa handled very well. For those of you who knew her personally in the UGC days and her campaign days during her bid as MP under the NPP ticket will attest to this that she was also fearless.

Most often, women are sidelined in their own communities when they want to take on leadership roles, due to our historical/traditional perception of the roles of women. Our consolation to the families of Madam Hawa Yakubu is that, we may not be able to replace their daughter, mother, sister, friend, but we vow to keep her memory alive by emulating the courage she demonstrated in the face of opposition and adversity and I think I echo this sentiment on behalf of a lot of women who admired her dynamism.

Women of Ghana who aspire to go into politics should see Madam Hawa as the living proof that a determined woman with the right convictions can and will make a difference in our society. We should never let her memory face into oblivion with empty speeches but we should resolve to emulate her best practices, fight for the equal participation in nation building and leadership roles for women.

Young women of Ghana who are interested in politics should see her as the role model and pursue their vision of becoming a part and parcel of the crop of leaders with vision to move Ghana and indeed Africa forward.

It is heart warming to see the leadership of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and other women organization leaders coming together in bereavement and paying her glowing and deserving tributes. May the flame she lit and the passion she shared to make a difference in the lives of others glow forever. This is a clarion call for society to groom and raise more Hawa Yakubus. May her soul rest in perfect peace.



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