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Opinions of Saturday, 16 June 2007

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

Chief Justice Woode and the plight of women

Georgina Woode has made history by becoming the first female Chief Justice of Ghana.

While we all congratulate and wish her well, it is a good time to reflect on the plight of women in our society.

Making remarks during the swearing-in, the President, His Excellency J.A. Kufuor said, “If you are able to perform your role fairly, the whole nation would come to accept the importance of gender balance.” While I commend the President for his good intentions and a good appointment, we must not put the future and burden of women’s advancement on the shoulders of Justice Woode. We must not wait till the evening of her tenure before accepting the validity of gender balance. It has been proven repeatedly by the quiet, heroic deeds of our women.

I was brought up as a child by a single mother who never spent a day in school. Yet my mother was the hardest working, most responsible parent I have had the privilege of knowing. She did everything she could to educate her six children and, to bring us up well. I know that there are millions of men and women who have such experiences with their mothers and other women.

Long before Justice Woode’s appointment, many Ghanaian women had demonstrated and continue to demonstrate success in business, in the professions and in politics. While burying Madam Rebecca Hawa Yakubu last month, she was universally lauded for her grit, intelligence and humaneness. The time to implement gender balance in our affairs is now!! Not tomorrow, not next year and not when Justice Woode is done with her work.

We should appoint more women to leadership positions in the executive, police, armed forces and other agencies when they are qualified. I look forward to the day when at least 30% of our DCE’s will be women on our way to full equity in those positions. While appointments such as that of Justice Woode ought to be encouraged, I think the real front in the war for gender equity is in the lives of ordinary women like my mother.

• They need access to credit so that they can get into and expand their businesses.

• We should increase educational opportunities for girls and women so that they can attain their full potential.

• We should support single mothers like my mother who are bringing up their children without the support of their men, by helping them obtain access to loans, schools and health insurance.

Doing these things will not only benefit women, but all of us because they are our mothers, our sisters and our spouses.

As Henry Kissinger once remarked “the battle of the sexes will never be won because there is too much fraternising with the enemy on both sides.” Let us make it routine, in my lifetime, for women to be not only Chief Justices, Army and Police Commanders, DCE’s and President, but also fully deserving of the respect and support of all of us in their daily life.



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