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Opinions of Monday, 9 April 2007

Columnist: GNA

Women, before and after Independence ... far have we come

A GNA Feature By Mildred Assifuah

"Freedom, freedom" were the clarion and final proclamation to show that, indeed Ghana and for that matter Africa is truly free from the oppressor's rule. Freedom, we are all aware, was not won on a silver platter. It took the sweat, toil, strength and blood of our forefathers and most significantly, women to win the struggle for socio-economic and political independence, so to say.

When Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the leadership of Convention People's Party (CPP) announced the "Self-government now" agenda, they had in mind that the struggle was not for men alone.

This was reflected in how Nkrumah mobilized the market women and the subsequent formation of Confederation of Markets Women who selflessly supported and rallied behind him and the CPP to the core until independence. Contributions from the mar kets women confederacy headed by Evelyn Amartefio and others really did the job. These women were everywhere with Nkrumah and the CPP, during political campaigns and meeting, these women displayed exemplary leadership qualities and supported the party. No wonder, Nkrumah could not leave them out in anything he did.

At the height of the tension and political agitation when many nationalist leaders-- notably the Big Six --- Kwame Nkrumah, Akuffo Addo, Ako Adjei, Obetsebi Lamptey, J. B Danquah and Nana Ofori Atta were imprisoned for their vision, women were also there with them. Gallant women like Ekua Asabea, Akosua Adoma were all part of the struggle and suffered detention. After their release from prison, Nkrumah and colleagues were crowned prison graduates, which, in fact whipped up interest in the struggle and finally paid off with INDEPENDENCE.

Independence came and women continued to play vital roles in the socio-political growth of the country. They were all over the place--on the fields as producers of food and cash crops for domestic consumption and for export; in the market buying an selling and above all in the home bringing forth and caring for our future leaders=97in a nutshell, keepers of the family and society.

Theodocia Okoh gave the nation a colourful identity of Red-Blood of our Forefathers, Yellow- the rich minerals, the Black star, making Ghana the hope and star for the rest of the African on the continent and the Diaspora with the Green signifying our fresh and ever- green vegetation.

The Ghana Flags continues to soar higher and higher in both Africa and the world at large with its numerous international relations and benefits.

If there was anything to boast of, then it should be this achievement, which demonstrated a high sense of nationalism. On the economic front, women continued to show sterling leadership skills, a quick look through the markets and you will see them briskly doing great business to boost the economy.

Of course several women have distinguished themselves and needed to be honoured either alive or posthumously, notably, Mrs. Esther Ocloo, a great entrepreneur who was instrumental in the institution of Association of Ghana Industries.

On the academic front, personalities, that stood out were Professor Florence Dolphyne, former Pro-vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Efua Sutherland, Ama Atta Aidoo who, through various publications had educated many women to aspire higher on the academic ladder.

Democracy and Freedom of speech has also gained roots by the sterling leadership of some Ghanaian media personalities and lawyers such as Gifty Afenyi-Dadze, Ursula Owusu, Nana Oye Lithur, Anna Bossman, Joyce Aryee among others who were still working in diverse ways to advance the course of women.

Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings could also be described as one woman who has contributed in no small way towards women empowerment, talk about the 31st December movement, the gari processing facilities for rural women and the day care delivery for early childhood development.

Women have not performed badly in the political front at all; they have really contributed their quota to the political discourse of this nation, but there is more room for delivery in the sector. Though having less representation in parliament and political circles, women continue to fight and champion the course of their fellow women at any given opportunity.

Mrs. Susanna Alhasan, the first woman to be a minister of state spearheaded the establishment of the Child Maintenance Acts. Dr Mary Grants and others through to the era of Gladys Asmahs, Hajia Alima Mahamas, Hawa Yakubus, Grace Omaboes, have proved themselves as the Margaret Thatchers of Ghana striving within their capabilities to project womanhood.

Today's women as young as they may be are always doing very well and supporting all sectors of society. They are abundant- doctors, journalists teachers, mechanics, engineers and pilots, among others.

Aside the odds and limitations, women have indeed come far and would go miles when given the needed recognition and assistance in the society.

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