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Opinions of Monday, 25 April 2011

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

President Mills and P/NDC; Respect Ghanaian Women for Once!

In the Holy Bible, it is stated that God created man before a woman. Many people do not understand why God took this action but I believe He might have used man as a rough draft before coming out with the final masterpiece, in this case the woman. This clearly shows how unique and precious women are. A woman is the epitome of tenderness, care and wisdom. Women’s contribution to nation building cannot be over-emphasized. This could be seen in all sectors of the Ghanaian economy – agriculture, health, education, public service, trade, among others. Although, the provisional results of the 2010 Population and Housing census in Ghana put the percentage of women at 51.3%, the number of women in politics is not all that encouraging. Besides, women continue to face discrimination, abuses and prejudice. This unfortunate situation therefore calls for more pragmatic policies geared towards gender equality in all spheres of life so that the livelihood of the Ghanaian woman could be improved. In his Inaugural Address in June 2000, at the UN Session in Beijing, our own Kofi Annan who was the then UN Secretary General remarked; “the future of this planet depends on women”. The implication is that without women, development and the survival of the human race will remain elusive.
The onus therefore lies on the various political parties in Ghana to ensure that the welfare and empowerment of the Ghanaian woman feature prominently in their plans, policies and programmes. But what are Ghanaians witnessing under Mills-Mahama administration, as far as the record, policies, programmes and attitude of the NDC towards women are concerned? Very pathetic! The NDC claims to be a democratic party and thus believes in the tenets of democracy. The recent resignation of Mrs. Rawlings and her intention to contest the sitting President for the party’s flag-bearership slot has raised a lot of eyebrows in the ruling NDC. But why should this happen to a woman of Nana Konadu’s calibre? Is Konadu’s case not a clear manifestation of the P/NDC’s negative attitude towards the generality of Ghanaian women? Is it because Mrs. Rawlings lacks the qualities of a good leader? Is it because Konadu, together with her husband, illegally acquired state assets? Is it because she was once said she regrets being born an Asante? Is it because she wants to give more identification haircuts to people? Is it because she wants act as a conduit for her husband, J.J. Rawlings to rule the country once again and cause more mayhem? Is it because Nana Konadu wants to buy more Jacuzzis or is it because she has unfinished business of making the rich and the poor equal? Ghanaians would like to know from Nana Konadu’s detractors.
One can look at the horrible and despicable treatment of women during the Rawlings’ AFRC/PNDC era with deep emotions. Whilst many married and unmarried women were stripped naked and given lashes, others were raped, some had their businesses and assets confiscated and an uncountable number of them killed. The abduction and killing of Mrs. Cecelia Koranteng-Addo who was nursing a baby is still fresh in the minds of her fellow women. Again, between 1997 and 2000 under the Rawlings-Mills administration, over 34 innocent women were mysteriously murdered and no pragmatic action was taken to arrest the perpetrators of these callous murders. How could the NDC therefore convince Ghanaians that it is a party that has the requisite capacity to ensure the safety and protection of women? The mere introduction of the Cash and Carry System – a killer health policy as well as the pulling down of the Makola Market in Accra shows the uncaring nature of the NDC towards women’s issues.
In fact, our hard working women do not need a rocket scientist to show them how their socio-economic and political situations have deteriorated over the last two years. John Mills promised to give 40% ministerial appointments to women but ended up with only 11%. Asked why 11% and not the 40% promised, Mills had this to say; “Ghanaian women are not interested in politics”. Since John Mills undeservedly became the leader of this country, not a single policy or programme has been designed to empower our women politically, socially and economically and this is evident in the introduction of new taxes, high interest rates which discourage potential borrowers as well as the abnormal increase in utility tariffs.
In addition, some of the ‘greedy bastards’ who are serving under this mediocre government have been so rude to our women to the extent that they brand female politicians as prostitutes. I hope John Jinapor - the vice president’s Spokesperson and Hannah Bissiw - the Cuban trained specialist in the welfare of ants, cockroaches, dogs, snakes, mosquitoes and other animals are listening. Surprisingly, Akua Sena Dansua whose home region houses the Trokosi slaves could not even use her position as Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs to free these innocent women and girls from this bondage. In the end Akua Dansua whose primary up to tertiary education was funded by the tax payer, had the gut to advise some female students not to prolong their education all because it poses a threat to their marriage. Today, all the executive members of the NDC, together with government appointees have been attacking the former first lady with disrespect. Her crime? Her readiness and willingness to contest against a lame-duck President. For instance, the Eastern Regional Chairman of the NDC, Julius Debrah describes Mrs. Rawlings’ action as rubbish and that NDC members and sympathizers are not “Zombis”. The Communications Minister, Haruna Iddrisu argues that Ghanaians are not ready for a female president yet he fails to tell us when the time will be due. Is it not a case of the Minister belittling and denigrating the ability and competency of Ghanaian women? Kwesi Pratt, a die-hard unofficial member of the NDC says he would use all the necessary means to prevent Nana Konadu from becoming a president in Ghana. The General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson “Mugu Yaro” Nketia believes the NDC party is not like a one-man church. So my mothers, nieces and sisters; is the NDC not an anti-women?
It is in the light of the above that I urge all Ghanaian women to have faith in the NPP. His Excellency, J.A. Kufuor in opposition promised to make women’s issue paramount. To this end, he created the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs and raised it to Cabinet status to ensure that all official policy gave consideration to women’s interest. In effect, not only did domestic violence and child trafficking decrease, but also gender equality was enhanced. Kufuor in opposition promised to provide logistics to the security agencies and even seek foreign assistance with the view to unravelling the mystery behind the serial killing of women. Every woman could attest to the fear and panic that gripped the whole country prior to the 2000 general elections and during this period Rawlings’ puppet, John Mills was the vice president. Within seven months into the NPP administration, one Charles Quansah was arrested and confessed to have killed 8 out of the 34 murdered women. President Kufour appointed 25% of women into his administration a percentage which is more than twice of the Mills’ current figure of 11%. Miss Elizabeth Ohene, one of the influential women in contemporary politics emerged as the first appointee of Kufuor.
Nor is this all, for, the NPP over the years has demonstrated by deeds and words that it is the only political party that takes women’s issues seriously. Currently it is the party that has more females serving as Members of Parliament. During the 2008 parliamentary elections, 20 female MPs in Ghana had the opportunity to represent their constituents and out of this number, fifteen (15) women were from the NPP until the demise of Hon. Doris Seidu thus bringing the number to fourteen (14). The NDC has only 4 female MPs with one (1) from the CPP.
It is refreshing to note that the introduction of Free Maternal Care, a policy which allowed pregnant women free access to medical care before and after delivery contributed in no small measure to the decline of child mortality rates. Besides, these nursing mothers had the option of registering their children under the National Health Insurance Scheme which was also made possible by the NPP administration. Consequently, the holding of women as captives in the hospitals and clinics became a thing of the past.
Having realised that majority of women were more dominant in the Private Sector, especially petty trading, the NPP government set up the Micro Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), where micro credit was extended to women who engaged in economic activities with the view to reducing poverty levels and vulnerability. The Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) policy which enabled the aged and vulnerable to access between GHS 8.00 and GHS 15.00 was very commendable.
At the educational front, the NPP implemented the school feeding programme, free bus ride etc as well as the expansion of educational facilities across the length and breadth of the country. All these social interventions happened under an administration that started from HIPC yet due to the ingenuity of President Kufour, those policies saw the light of the day. Interestingly, John Mills started his administration with oil money, fat loans, high rate of direct and indirect taxes, high export revenue, stable oil price and high utility tariffs but what do we see? Atta Mills has now turned himself into a dressmaker with a pair of scissors in his black palms, cutting sods and painting toilets and dining halls in his third year rule and his bootlickers ignorantly think that their incompetent boss is doing a ‘great’ job.
In winding up, I would add that if it is generally accepted that the successful development of any nation basically depends on the expansion of individual human opportunities; and the involvement of the masses in the development process including women who form majority of Ghana’s population, then efforts must be made to eliminate all cultural, religious, legal and economic constraints that hinder the full participation of women in self and national development in order to maximize their productivity and that of the nation. In this endeavour, I appeal to all Ghanaian women to join hands with the NPP in championing the cause of women. Besides, the women themselves who are the ‘victims’ of injustices must become ‘activists’. They should not be passive, silent, submissive and adapted until the necessary changes are made. On this note, I exhort Obaapa Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings to be resolute in her quest to become the flag-bearer of the NDC in the upcoming congress. The voice of FONKAR is the voice of the NDC, so Nana Konadu go, go, go high. Who knows you could become the next Yaa Asantewaa of Ashanti and Ghana? I can’t wait to see NANA of NDC versus NANA of NPP in Election 2012. It will be “All die be die”.

God bless Ghanaian women! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Hull. UK

katakyienpp@yahoo.co.uk 07944309859
“Vision, coupled with persistency, results in true success”