It has become evident that former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, has declared her intention to contest the 2012 elections, although some of the top figures within the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some social commentators have been critical of the open declaration of her intention.
This writer wishes to examine the chances of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings for the 2012 presidential slot on the ticket of the NDC.
One cannot delve into Konadu’s past without touching on her contributions to this country. I will therefore start wit her contributions on three key areas – education agriculture and women empowerment.
During the administration of the Provisional National Defence Council Nana Konadu worked assiduously and used her influence to establish numerous kindergartens centres in various hamlets, villages and throughout the regions under the much touted 31st December Women’s Movement, the Non-Governmental Organization she founded together with other women adherents of the Rawlings’ so-called 31st December, 1981 revolution. I can confidently state that there are KG’s in almost every town and district of this country. Some of the pupils who benefited from her 31st December KG education are now gainfully employed whilst others are in the academia.
There were some instances where paying the salaries of KG teachers became a problem as majority of them were not under the mainstream ministry of education. During that hectic period, she solicited some funds from development partners and philanthropists world wide through her special networks to pay the salaries of those teachers concerned. During the introduction of former president John Agyekum Kufuor’s new educational policies, KG education was also given prior attention.
Today KG education has been incorporated into the mainstream schools. Her organization has set up more than 870 pre-schools in Ghana and has worked actively to stir up interest for the accomplishment of child development and family planning.
KGs now benefit from the capitation grant and the school feeding programmes. They now have their own syllabus and their teachers prepare lesson notes. I am not implying that Nana was the first person to introduce KG education in the country, but she greatly put her entire energy into the KG education project.
Her next project was to urge the Ghanaian woman not to solely rely on her husband for maintenance allowance and other commitments. She was instrumental in getting them trained them to acquire skills in batik, tye and dye, gari and soap making, extraction of palm oil and palm kennel oil, among other vocations, to earn some income to take care of themselves and their families. She started with the batik, tye and dye training project. Most women, especially those in the rural areas, accepted the initiative and engaged in the above-mentioned income generating activities. Soap making, gari processing, palm oil and palm kernel extraction, beads making and many more income generating projects helped to revive the hopes of the deprived women in society as their economic fortunes undoubtedly increased. This move has contributed immensely to alleviate poverty among a good number of women in the rural areas of the country.
One of her avowed goals was to empower the Ghanaian woman to acquire certain political character traits. Nana Konadu’s women empowerment programme has given more impetus to the Ghanaian woman to accept the maxim that ‘what a man can do a woman can do better.’ Through educational seminars, foras and programmes in conjunction with the various district assemblies and some NGOs, many women in the country have become very much alive to their rights and responsibilities. One area where she used her influence to cause a real and great change was on the enactment of the PNDC Law 111 – to rescue widows from being unfairly treated. She also used her 31st December Women Movement to educate women to be aware of the dangers of the deadly HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Her desire was to see the emancipation of women at every level of development to enable them to contribute and benefit from the socio-economic and political progress of the country. She believes that women have a vital role to play to promote peace in the family, the country and the world at large, and such must be acknowledged. To do this, they must be empowered politically to equip them adequately for the challenges of critically identifying problems and finding solutions to them for the betterment of society.
It is now obvious that women have taken their rightful positions in our society. Even though there had been women politicians who had occupied various political positions in the country, they are now more assertive and challenging their male counterparts regarding high political offices. Her zeal in women empowerment and the memorable powerful speech Nana Konadu delivered at the Beijing Conference in 1997 have gone a long way to redefining the role of women in all fields of human endeavour.
This is an achievement that no man or woman within the National Democratic Congress can deny. Even after leaving government she has kept this movement alive and there is no doubt that after her departure from this world, her movement will continue to exist based on the solid foundation that she has laid for it.
I am expecting a contest between Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo – should both be elected flagbearers of the NDC and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) respectively. This would be called the “Battle Royals” in politics.
By Kwabena Adu Koranteng (a journalist)
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