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Opinions Sat, 10 Aug 2013

In Honour of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings

, mother of our homeland, Ghana.

Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, wife of former President Jerry Rawlings, has been at the helm of the 31st Women’s Movement since the early 1980s and has been credited for empowering women and girl-child across sub-Saharan Africa.

Nana’s tireless work to uplift women from poverty in Africa has been recognised by many nongovernmental organisations and governments across the world. In a speech she gave in Washington, DC, Nana Konadu focused on how governments in Africa can deploy development strategies to consolidate achievements made across countries in sub-Saharan Africa. She acknowledge that many African countries are going through great changes, where new technologies and demographic shifts, from the rural areas to the major urban centres and intra-country migration, couple with the fastest economic growth rates on the continent, has contributed to reshaping Africa.

Nana noted that, in the face of these changes and challenges, sub-Saharan Africa policy makers need to think and act innovatively and be willing to change to keep pace with the change and stay true to our African values. In many African countries, women and girl-child are more likely than men to be poor and illiterate, with less access to medical care, education and employment. Despite the gains made, economic disparities still persists between men and women, with women still face discrimination in the economic sphere. In northern Ghana, about a third of illiterates are female, although this shift in disparity is being address through the efforts of 31st Women’s Movement.

Through Nana’s effort development aid targeted at rural and urban slum poverty alleviation is being re-thought, focusing more on long term needs of the poor, and emphasis on development aid being a catalyst for sustainable growth in those communities. Through the 31st Women’s Movement, development funds is being invested in smart ways, such as in rural communities in Ghana, where women have been at the fore front of emerging small scale agro industry, with development intersecting with business opportunities, thus creating more room for private sector to give new economic opportunities elsewhere.

The 31st Women’s Movement is at the fore front of helping to reduce fertility rates among adolescent girls in Ghana, and making education more inclusive, especially in the rural areas and urban slums. Nana Konadu was among the first to proposed putting resources into the poor women’s hand while promoting gender equality in society, a theme which was later adopted by the World Bank and other nongovernmental organisations. Until 1983 revolution led by Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, husband of Nana Konadu, Ghana was one of African countries with the highest level of inequality and rural women were the main victims of this dynamic exclusion, with a third of adult women in rural Ghana have no formal education.

The 31st Women’s Movement, under the leadership of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, many women in rural Ghana was given the opportunity to start small scale industries.

The 31st Women’s Movement programme enabled many Ghanaian women to fully engage in the economic development of the country through access to microloans to start their own businesses.

Women were given management training and learned how to account for expenses and revenues in order to understand how much money their businesses are making or losing etc.

For example, in Northern Ghana, Nana Konadu realise that if these women can get the right training, quality seeds and access to irrigation and they will be able to grow more food to feed their family while producing surplus to sell for profit, thus gave birth to the 31st Women’s Movement, a movement which is being replicated across sub-Saharan Africa.

Columnist: Kuffuor, Afia