No women empowerment programme surpasses President Akufo-Addo's

President Akufo Addo Speaking At Chatham House President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Mon, 17 Aug 2020 Source: J.K. Okyere

The vulnerability of women essentially, puts them at a position that many think requires more support than their male counterparts.

Governments in many jurisdictions, particularly African countries are struggling to design systems that seek to give women some preponderance of advantage to be able to access equal opportunities.

In Ghana, various governments since independence, have formulated policies ranging from education, health, leadership etc. with the view to addressing the issue empowering women to fully participate in our democratic governance.

One of the vehicles that has been used by past and present presidents of this Republic as a way of empowering women and women groups is appointment into positions.

Under the 4th Republic, quiet a number of women found themselves in the Rawlings' administration.

President Kufour on his part also deepened the process and included some good number in his government.

He went further to appoint a first female Chief Justice. The appointment of a first female Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, also happened under his watch.

The trend continues through late president Mills' to president Mahama's in which their administrations also saw some number of women serving in various positions.

All these former leaders have done their best in the attempt to engender women participation in the governance process.

But the bold and deliberate steps taken by President Akufo-Addo, in confronting the challenge, exceed all former leaders of the country.

In terms of ministerial appointments, three of his top cabinet posts which are the Foreign Affairs, Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, Local Government and Rural Development have all been given to women. The Secretary to Cabinet is also a woman.

Further more and for the first time in the history of Ghana, he has appointed a first female Chief of Staff, to coordinate activities at the seat of government.

These are in addition to other substantive ministerial and deputy ministerial capacities and it really gives meaning to the President's vision of building the capacity of women.

At the local government level, 37 females out of the 259 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies(MMDAs) have been made MMDCES.

An appreciable number of them are CEOs and heads of other state owned enterprises and Boards as well.

This notwithstanding, President Akufo-Addo has realised that it is not enough to appoint individual women to occupy positions in a bid to recognise them. He is not oblivious of the fact that, if you give a hungry person fish, you have given only meal but if you teach the hungry person how to catch fish, you have provided a livelihood.

Following from this, he has rolled out a deliberate, comprehensive flagship policy of Free Senior High School education, an unprecedented social intervention programme, which has so far placed more than a million students into senior high, vocational technical schools across the country.

This has increased secondary school enrolment from 881,000 in 2016 to over 1.2 million in 2019.

Majority of these students are girls many of whom could not have afforded to pay fees to access senior high school education.

For decades, parents and guardians have placed more premium on the boy child at the detriment of the girl child. This has relegated many brilliant but needy girls to the background.

Envisaging that these girls are potential leaders who can rise to lead organisations, influence economic policy decisions and manage their own businesses in the not too distant future, the President's policy has eliminated all forms of fees which hitherto, was a bottleneck impeding their empowerment into the future.

These are some of the ways through which a visionary leader foresees into the future.

Women empowerment is not only about a figure head appointment. It also has a lot to do with how a leader espouses programmes and policies which has consequential, multiplier and generational relevance on the women population and President Akufo-Addo has amply demonstrated it.

Columnist: J.K. Okyere