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Opinions of Monday, 16 May 2011

Columnist: Abubakar, Shuk

Mrs Rawlings and unconscious anti-feminist agenda.

Immediately after the former first lady surprised everyone by picking up nomination form for her long- rumoured presidential ambition on Tuesday, May 3rd, an apples and clearly wounded President Mills and his army of ‘enemies and traitors ’ started to question her ability to win the presidential nomination let alone win the general election for the party. Critics said they either "still have doubts about her ability to be the ‘right’ presidential candidate for NDC", or they were "sure she cannot galvanised enough support nationwide to win the General election"

Why Mrs Rawlings is contesting President Mills is not relevant. However, a clearly relevant effect and impact to our democracy is that, for the first time in our young democracy someone finally had the gut to stand -up and challenge a sitting president within his own party and all Ghanaian should applaud her action as a symbol of patriotism and the growth of our young democracy.
The ‘Rawlingses’ have earned the right to exercises their democratic right as members of NDC to challenge whoever they wants to about matters concerning that party. Clearly Mrs Rawlings is not ‘everyone cup of tea’ but as a member of NDC she has the right to contest any position she feels capable of doing a better job at. It is now up to the delegate of the great Party to vote for who they want to lead them to the next election. So far, apart from Pelpou’s 99% and Sinare’s 70% projection for Mills (where they got that results from, is bleeding obvious but clearly over the top), there has been no clear opinion poll about how the ‘real’ NDC grassroots supporters and delegates feels about Mrs Rawlings potential candidacy, but clearly the Rawlingses must have done their homework before sticking their neck out and to dismiss her ambition without reason or to call on Mr Rawlings to curtail his wife’s legitimate ambition is a classic tell-tale anti-feminist expression, commonly used to preface anti-women remarks. Similarly, the opponents of the Rawlingses galvanized by GHS90 Million war chest from the castle seemed utterly unaware that from our country’s history these routine doubts about the capability of female has a long and painful history and had been used as a means of enforcing male supremacist order.

No doubt that, the vast majority of the opponents of the Rawlingses’ would be offended to be called anti-feminist. President Mills will surely be offended by that. However, it's equally unsurprising that many women, in particular, would see this clearly as not just “anti-Rawlingses” agenda but rather a more sinister attempt to degrade women.

Anti-feminism that transcends wealth and position

We got a high-profile example of this from the publication in Al-Hajj newspaper entitled “Otumfuo to stop Konadu from contesting Mills” and ‘Stop your wife,’ Pelpuo pleads with Rawlings proving that women in Ghanaian politics have a long way to go and that for Mrs Rawlings proving her leadership credential is just the tip of the iceberg.

Unconscious Anti-feminism

Women Politicians are routinely regarded with suspicion, and treated unfairly as a result - usually without men even realising it. No wonder the female unemployment rate is usually twice the men rate, regardless of what that rate might be. Or consider literacy and access to education. When it came to sustained literacy and education attainment in Ghana, women and young girls were more likely to be steered into early marriages, even when they qualified for university. None of this proves conscious Anti-feminist intent. But that hardly matters to the women victims. Disparity in treatment was impermissible, regardless of intent.


I therefore call on all Ghanaians interested in nurturing our democracy to avoid overt anti-feminist comment and to leave Mrs Rawlings alone to exercise her right to contests president Mills freely without intimidation and threat. Of cause, Mrs Rawlings should not be given an easy ride because she is a woman and I believe she is not expecting one, everyone has the right to fulfil his or her ambition and democracy demands that. To question her ability simply because of who her family name is wrong just has it will be wrong to questions anybody’s ability because of his race, colour of his skin or ethnicity. The Rawlingses have sacrifice a lot for NDC and for it causes over the years and have therefore earned the right to contest any of the party’s position. Who they choose to contest is therefore not relevant.

The Writer
Shuk Abubakar
(Student of Educational Planning)

Institute of Education
University of London
Sir George Monoux College