A Former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, has noted that women's groups such as the 31st December Women's Movement (DWM) whose members are politically active are seen as a threat to some political movements.
She said they consequently faced persecution, indicating that between 2000 and 2008, the DWM lost several of its schools and small-scale projects due to a concerted effort to break its front.
The former First Lady, who was speaking at an extraordinary session of the Crans Montana forum on Africa in Brussels last Saturday, explained that the DWM was a development-oriented organisation that was started in 1982 when Ghana was going through a revolution to stop the economic, social and political decay of the country.
“The 31st December Women's Movement was meant to address the issues that affected women's development and to make women an absolute part of the new concept of participatory decision-making democracy,” she added.
Mrs Rawlings noted that currently women in Ghana were making great strides, with many of them serving in government positions on merit.
She described her election in January this year as vice-chairperson of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) as an endorsement of the work the DWM had done to improve the welfare of womanhood.
“I believe that the Crans Montana Forum should use this new medium to establish the Crans Montana “Year of the Youth Initiative” with an objective to create massive awareness of their plight and rights,” she noted.
She said the objective could include challenging governments to review policies and actions in the light of guidelines provided in the Beijing Declaration, the UN World Programme of Action for the Youth and the African Youth Charter.
Mrs Rawlings called for an attitudinal change on the part of governments and asked the forum to set the agenda, as some of the participants had the requisite experience and success stories to push such a serious project forward.
“My vision is to see women become an absolute part of nation-building and national development, even as they empower themselves always to have the ability to make a choice in whatever they do,” she said.
Extolling the achievements of the DWM, she said women who were active in the movement became more visible in their communities, as they displayed leadership qualities.
“The women who were given these positions gave exemplary performances. By their visibility and hard work, women from the movement were nominated onto the district assemblies as appointed members when the government appreciated the need to establish a quota for women to ensure their participation in local decision-making.
“The movement sought to make critical information on health, life trends, civic awareness, HIV/AIDS, legal rights and other concerns critical to its members and through them to ordinary women in communities,” she added.
Through these efforts, she said, women in all districts in the country gained increased access to vital information.
The DWM, Mrs Rawlings added, set up and ran workplace and community early childhood development centres across the country to provide pre-school training facilities for children, as well as make it convenient for mothers to leave their children in good care as they went about their duties and economic activities.