The Dean of the School of Information and Communications at the University of Ghana, Audrey Gadzekpo disagrees with the president that there is not enough dynamism and activism by women in the country.
At the Women’s Deliver Conference held this week in Canada, President Akufo-Addo charged women to push for greater inclusion in Ghana’s political administration because they make a greater percentage of the country’s population – 52%.
He told the gathering of women advocates “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 added.
The obviously unimpressed women advocates at the conference did not hide their disapproval of the president’s comments. He has been criticised at home too.
Women advocate groupings in the country were not only appalled by the comments but also felt extremely embarrassed for the man who has been crowned gender champion in Africa by the African Union.
President Akufo-Addo’s AU Gender award
Prof Gadzekpo who disagrees with the president’s comments said his cringe-worthy statement was flawed in many ways.
“Nobody in this country will dispute the dynamism of our women. From the market to other spaces, women dynamism is all around us.
“Women and gender NGOs have been very dynamic. If it wasn’t for their dynamism we won’t have the Domestic Violent act for example. It was a coalition of women NGOs and male gender champions who made that happen,” the Communications professor said.
She cited the work of many other women and gender organisations, like Abantu for Development – a women-led gender agency – which put together a coalition that produced the Women’s Manifesto ( a document which clarified for women political office seekers what ought to be done to improve on the gender indicators of the country.)
“That is activism, that’s dynamism,” she said, stressing the efforts made by women NGOs to ensure that district assemblies have more women representation than there currently is.
“So by the time he says ‘people are not dynamic’, we are asking ‘what is he looking at, what is he expecting’,” Prof Gadzekpo queried.
One of the female panelists, Dr Alaa Murabit, could not hide her disapproval for the president’s comments
Women in politics
On the broader conversation on why there are not enough women in political administration, Prof Gadzekpo links that to what she describes as a systemic structural barrier.
The conversation, for her, should be around how these systemic barriers can be removed and perhaps if need be, relook at the issue of constitutional reform if women must progress.
She described the history of the Fourth Republic at ensuring equal representation of women as abysmal stressing that it was time for the issue to be looked at boldly and radically.
In her view, the president has the power to do more because his current performance is poor.
“I really wish that the president will pause and ask himself, ‘what did I say in the forum that got the heckles of those people there up,” instead of listening to all the ‘yay sayers’ and those who are trying to comfort him by saying ‘you were right,” she advised.