Opinions Tue, 8 Apr 2008

Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings got it right

I am not a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and have no business in the affairs of a political party I do not belong to, but what the NDC stands for cannot be defined by a single soul, fallible as I can also be.

We all have a right to an opinion as regards the political direction of our homeland and what influences it.

This explains why I agree to a suggestion by the former first Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings’, that a woman should be considered as a running mate for the NDC flag bearer- John Evans Atta Mills.

By endorsing this, I have no intention to reduce the remarkable political pedigree of my good old friend- John Dramani Mahama, an excellent human being whose qualities are visible, not even as a deputy to a president, but in the future can also vie for the presidency of Ghana.

I agree with the claim that a running mate should be as good as the individual running for president. John Mahama has excellent credentials.

But I have no other motive than to agree with Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, that the former Copyright Administrator of Ghana, Mrs. Betty Mould -Iddrisu, should be considered as a vice-presidential candidate for the NDC.

Why do I think this is good for leadership equality in Ghana?

Historically, women have been sidelined in favor of their male counterparts, and the usual excuse has been that they do not aspire to higher leadership. But who should blame them in a chauvinistic/male-dominated world?

Ever since Victoria Woodhull ran for the United States presidency on the Equal Rights Party ticket in 1872, followed lately by such self-motivated women as Angel Merkel of Germany, Gloria Arroyo of Philippines, Cristina Fernandez de Kircher of Argentina, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, coupled with the desire of Hilary Clinton to run for the United States presidency, the glass ceiling for women in higher political office and other social spheres have remained intact under the watchful eyes of men.

This problem triggered my strong agreement with Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, that through Betty Mould-Iddrisu more women would follow the trend initiated by Naa Afaley Sackeyfio when she partnered Dr. Kwabena Darko for presidental election many years ago. More women should join mainstream politics in Ghana. In the future, they should compete for the presidency.

Throughout the history of Africa, and in particular Ghana's gender politics, we have complained, and continue to complain , that women themselves are their own enemies as we conveniently conclude, that they do not show interest in occupying higher office.

This line of thinking must change for the better, as equal gender recognition is becoming popular in many civilized political environments around the world.

For those who still believe in the old school of thought, that unshakable stand cannot flourish in an ever-changing world in which more women are now pursuing higher academic dreams than ever before, and are vigorously preparing themselves through many endeavors that are also beneficial to humanity.

This means societies still dominated by men have no other alternative than to engage women as partners in all aspects of nation building and governance.

Gender mainstreaming must be an obvious alternative in Ghana. It is necessary because as we continue to erase many excellent constructs that mitigate empowerment and gender recognition, we are also destroying the basis for encouraging men and women to be equal partners in the formulation of policies, political participation, and societal development.

Many societies failed due to continued perpetuation of inequality, and preventing men and women from benefiting equally.

Gender inequality, and the fact that more women do not hold elected office cannot be simplified, especially in Africa where entrenched male perceptions cannot be easily altered for the good of these societies, moreso, when we all know, that the power most men protect is mainly due to egoism, that for many decades they have consciously manipulated governmental and social systems to their advantage.

From our Ghanaian traditional realm, men have even ignored the fact that in the process of choosing a leader, it is the Queen who nominates a would-be King or Chief, her submission is final and cannot be challenged. Are Ghanaian women reminding their men about this?

As it is now, and thanks to the reversal of nomination roles through the wholesale acceptance of western civilization, the Ghanaian woman should now fight for, and continue to explain why she should be considered for higher political office.

I would surely revisit this issue, but the fact remains, that if Ghana still believes in its accolade as a pace-setter in Africa, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings’ push for a woman running mate in her party should not be seen as one of those feminist thoughts, but part of an excellent “political homily” that amplifies essential qualities in women, educating all of us to accept inclusion in all spheres of public life, the attachment to our gender advantages notwithstanding.

"To those who have ears............................."

Ato Aidoo, formerly of the features desk, Daily Graphic, Accra, Ghana.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato