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18.06.2008 Politics

A Woman Leader • Let It Happen In Our Lifetime

By Daily Graphic
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Ever since that serpent in the Garden of Eden hissed to catch Eve's attention and went further to cajole her to lead her husband Adam into temptation thus, causing God's displeasure, society has continued to pass its own judgement on woman and sentenced her to a second-class citizenship.

If you look at history, from ancient to modern, no matter where it is written and which part of the world the history relates to, the place of a woman has always been after the man. In the few instances where a woman has been able to get into the limelight, particularly as a leader, she would have had to prove more than twice, if not more, that she is capable to take on the mantle being handed over to her.

I find it stupefying that as enlightened as our world is today, there are only 10 female world leaders, out of a population of six billion plus, exactly half of which is women.

In our African continent, described as the world's second largest continent covering the earth, there are only two countries with women leaders out of the 53 countries. Here again, out of a total population of 877.5 million plus, more than half is women.

Coming home to Ghana, out of a population of 22.4 million people, 51 per cent are women. However, in our 51-year history as an independent state, we are waiting for a woman as head or deputy head of government so our history can be re-written.

I am taking pains to go through these hard facts to prove that we cannot wish away the reality that we live in a man's world where women have fallen short of the glory of men. A woman has to work extra hard at the workplace to earn recognition. Not long ago, a friend showed me some world statistics which supported a discussion we were having.

The facts of the discussion was that when a man and a woman with the same qualification, experience, and skills apply for the same job, in seven out of 10 cases, the man will get the nod. On most corporate ladders, the top is invariably heavy with men. When competent women have worked hard to get into recognisable positions at the top, it is sometimes not seen as merit, but rather it is because she has powerful connections at higher places.

If we cannot and will never live in a woman's world, there must surely be a balance somehow, somewhere. The world today is in a mess. We do not need a UN conference and pages of communiqué to tell us.

Nations are in turmoil, economies are depressed, societies are upside down, peace and order have been thrown out to the winds, violence has broken all boundaries, and families are in disarray. Who can clean this mess, but a woman, an expert cleaner, who will not exchange cleanliness for anything?

Coming home, has anybody observed what I have noted lately? I happen to have shares in 10 of the listed companies on the Ghana Stock Exchange, and so in the last three months I have been busy attending annual general meetings to update myself on how well my money is working for me.

It has struck me that in majority of the companies, you would be lucky to count more than two women among the nine or 10 men dominated board members of these companies/institutions. As for the chairperson, we better not go there.

Yet, these are institutions with a great number of women shareholders and customers. The trend is the same when you go counting the number of women in senior management positions in these same establishments.

It is, however, refreshing and somewhat promising in the political realm. Increasingly, we get more women showing interest in the political administration of the country at the district, municipal, metropolitan and constituency levels. I got even more encouraged of late when the political train for constituency primaries took off with more and more women getting on board.

The results of the primaries coming through in the past few weeks, however, are quite disappointing. For the areas where it was almost certain that a woman would take the seat, it did not happen. So as my hopes and those of many more women get dashed by the day, the question keeps popping up - how ready are we as a nation to welcome women in our politics?

To what extent are our Presidential aspirants (or is it their advisers), ready to give the wife of Adam a chance as their next in command? It has to be the veep's slot, because that is what is available with the presidential slots all gone to the men. Even that, one is already closed to a woman.

That brings my mind back to the politics of far away America. I have followed the US Democratic Party's primaries for a presidential candidate, since it moved into full gear in January this year. At the beginning, I was torn between candidate Clinton and candidate Obama, because I identified with both in terms of colour and sex.

But the woman instinct in me seems to have been much stronger, pushing me to give 60 per cent of my 'vote' to candidate Clinton. She was on the same wavelength as yours truly when at one of her earlier campaign rallies she remarked that many have said that a woman cannot be a President, 'but we never know until we try'.

Since that rally, she picked up momentum winning the admiration of all. And as if that was a teaser, she was soon to be put in her right place. The super delegates spoke and spoke loudly, bringing the desires of a woman presidential hopeful for the world's most powerful country crushing. One thing, however, is certain — that Hillary Rodham Clinton has left a huge legacy for American women and maybe for elsewhere too.

Why am I keen on a woman leader for our motherland? I love to hear about women achievers the world over. Women who have attained such positions of authority have always looked beyond themselves if you know what I mean. Our country too needs a woman in that leadership circle to shape our direction.

With a 101 per cent Ghanaian blood running in my veins, I am eager to see my motherland move higher and higher in my life time so when I get to Heaven, I can tell my Father who has gone ahead of me that his dream in politics and, more importantly, his dream for women for which reason he sent my sister and I to the undisputed best ever female school in Ghana, happened after he left and certainly in my life time

I get convinced every day that a woman in the seat of leadership or for now, second in command, would be the next stage of our political maturity. A woman would transform our country even faster than we have ever hoped for. Women represent progress.

There are no two ways about it. Every woman, no matter her social ladder, has an innate ambition to advance what she has or is left in her care. Whereas Adam would have gone solo and eaten the fruit alone and behind his wife, Eve thought of her husband and gave him a taste of the fruit. How considerate a woman is.

Put a woman in a position of trust and she will make you proud. Women naturally want to use whatever is in their power for advancement and also for the general good. For this reason, when they are put in positions of trust, they make sure that they apply all their skills and might to make good all expectations.

The former Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meier, and former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had the might to manage their countries in war times. Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson is managing her country in post-war time.

Ghana is ripe for a woman vice-president to neutralise the over-polarised situation in our country. We want unity. That seems one of the natural roles of women. By the way, why are traditional leaders like queens not represented at the National House of Chiefs? It has always baffled me.

For now, we can only talk about a woman's role as second in command, because all the political parties have selected their presidential candidates for the December elections. What we have not missed yet is the opportunity to have one of the best ever vice-presidents and, of course, the first ever woman vice-president in this country.

We shall all keep guessing which of the five parties left will choose a woman as the running mate to their flag bearer. We are ready to welcome the nominee and vote massively for her. Our presidential flag bearers please, take note and make it happen in our life time — I mean Her Excellency the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana by your side on January 7, 2009. What a fait accompli it would be!

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