Investigative Journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni has mounted a spirited defence for President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo over his comments about women at the Women Deliver Conference in Canada.
President Akufo-Addo came under intense attack after he was reported to have said despite the fact majority of the country’s population are women not much political action had been witnessed in their push for greater inclusion in Ghana’s political administration.
“We are not seeing enough dynamism and activism on the part of those who are seeking. I am talking about dynamism where it matters…electing people to Parliament, controlling political parties because they are the instruments by which our societies make decisions.
“We are talking about decisions, not wishes and hopes, we are talking about decisions that are going to make the difference,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Read Manasseh's Post Below-
Manasseh in a Facebook post said the president committed no crime in his comments arguing that the bar should not be lowered for women by allocating a quota system for them in politics or leadership.
President Akufo-Addo did not say anything wrong. Women empowerment does not mean an unconditional endorsement of what women do, say or want. Gandhi said, "An honest disagreement is a good sign of progress." We must confront the truth even if it is not politically correct to do so. Is there enough dynamism or initiative in Ghana to get women to the decision-making table? No! Sitting in a conference room in Accra and screaming has not produced any meaningful results. Asking for a quota system is wrong. The bar should not be lowered for women. Instead, we should clear the hurdles in the running tracks of women so they can compete freely and fairly. Ursula Owusu Ekuful should be respected in parliament just like any other male MP because, like them, she contested and won on merit. She was not allocated a seat in the house because of her vagina.
We should take women empowerment beyond how many women are in cabinet and look broadly at how the girl-child can be nurtured to be whatever she aspires to be. Let us find out what made the likes of Mawuena Trebarh and Lucy Quist rise to the top of the corporate ladder. That's where the initiative and dynamism are lacking in our current discourse.
There are socio-cultural barriers that have inhibited the full exploitation of the potential of women. This is a fact that cannot be contested successfully. The barriers have fallen considerably through legislation in countries such as Ghana. Some dehumanizing cultural practices against women have been dealt with. The trokosi, FGM, widowhood rites and other such inhumane practices which targeted women have been criminalised through legislation. Discrimination against the girl-child in education is almost disappearing. At speech and prize days in our schools, girls appear to dominate the lists of awardees. We should be looking at how to build on these gains and sustain the brilliance of the girl child who tops her senior high school class until she gets her rightful place in cabinet, parliament or boardroom.
There are still barriers that need to be destroyed completely. These barriers are not erected by only men. It is convenient to find solace in the word patriarchy. But a lot more effort should be dedicated to the psychological barriers. Girls and young women should be taught that being told you're sexy is not a compliment. Instead, they should take pride in their intellectual strength and skills. Mothers should be told to stop admonishing their girls to behave well to get a good man to marry. Women whose spoilt sons enter into marriages should stop harassing their daughters-in-law and give them the space to fulfill their destinies. Male employers and superiors should be subjected to stiffer punishment for sexual harassment. The work environment should be made friendly for women. We should find out why women reject political offices and top public offices and address those issues.
Thirty percent of women in the President's appointees is woefully not enough, but we should not blame the man who has to get a majority of his ministers from parliament and select his appointees from a sample of political participants of his party and the few outside, who are available for selection. The bigger the sample of women, the bigger the chances of getting more women appointed. I know two prominent women outside the NDC who reportedly rejected President Mahama's offer of appointment. When he had to look for technocrats outside the party, almost all of them were women -- Nana Oye-Lithur, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman and Elizabeth Agyare. There is a limit to what a president can do in appointing women to create a balance.
There ought to be more initiatives and dynamism on the part of the champions of women empowerment to build a greater sample for selection. The best way to do that is not to antagonise men and any voice of dissent.
The biggest enemy of a woman is not always a man.