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August 27, 2012 | General News

Georgina Opoku Amankwaa - First Female To Chair TUC

For the first time in the 67-year history of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Ghana, a woman has been elected as its chairperson.

Ms Georgina Opoku Amankwaa, who was the Chairperson of the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU), made history at TUC’s quadrennial congress held in Kumasi about a fortnight ago.

“I feel elated, happy and a sense of pride at being in the confidence of the working people of Ghana,” Ms Amankwaa said about her feat.

Of course this is not the first time Ms Amankwaa has succeeded in being elected as the first woman to a position previously occupied by men — she was the first woman to chair a District Council of Labour (Kumasi) of the TUC from 1997 to 1999; first woman to chair a regional (Ashanti) Council of Labour and the first woman to chair the PSWU. The first woman however, to chair a union in the history of the TUC was the late Elizabeth Azah of the Health Services Workers Union.

Having accomplished this feat makes Ms Amankwaa the political head of the organisation and she will preside over all meetings of the executive committee, steering committee and the General Council of the TUC made up of five elected members.

She said though the position of the second vice chairperson through an affirmative action of the union is reserved for women, that did not mean that women could not contest other positions of the union.

It certainly is a daunting task for Ms Amankwaa, being the first woman to occupy such a position and according to her, she would need to align her vision to the larger one of the organisation.

“As a woman, there is the need to carry women along and I envision a vibrant union with a lot of women and youth participating in the decision-making structures,” she said.

That, she said, could be achieved through the efforts of the executive committee to source funds to train those segments of the union.

“We live in a society where women and the youth are mostly relegated to the background and there is the need to train them in order for them to be able to participate effectively. Additionally, the membership of the union has a lot of women and youth and it is important for their voices to be heard and to work alongside their male counterparts so that decisions of the union are not lopsided,” Ms Amankwaa said.

In furtherance of this view, the new TUC Chairperson said she was happy that for the first time in the history of the TUC, its recent congress had separate congresses which preceeded the main congress held for women and youth.

Aside negotiating for salaries, Ms Amankwaa said together with her team they would continue to negotiate for better working conditions, improved social protection, especially on pensions and social security.

In furtherance of this, she said, in the four-year period that she will be in charge, the union will engage government and employers in fashioning out a living wage for Ghanaian workers.

“We don’t only need to enhance our salaries but there’s the need to have a wage we can live on as workers,” she said.

Asked for some of the challenges that came with the job, Ms Amankwaa said the TUC was predominantly male and the fact that a woman was now at the helm of affairs made some men uncomfortable.

“But with determination, prayer and being focused, I know I’ll be able to surmount challenges as they come. It is not only about working to please people but it’s more about working to their satisfaction and by that, I hope I will justify my inclusion,” she said.

However, she said a lot of men who know her capabilities have assured her of their support to enable her succeed.

She noted that since it was the first time a woman was occupying the position of chairperson, much was expected of her to serve as justification for other women who aspire to the position in the future.

Rise to the top
Ms Amankwaa became active in the TUC in 1995. According to her that was the time the Beijing Platform for Action was being implemented as an agenda for women’s empowerment.

As a result, a lot of activities were embarked upon by the TUC to empower women, which she benefitted immensely from.

“My rise to the top has not been easy but I worked towards it,” she said.

From 1996-1999 she was the chairperson of the PSWU Regional Women’s Committee in the Ashanti Region. In 1999 she was the chairperson of the District Council of Labour, Kumasi and later became the Chairperson of the Regional Council of Labour for the Ashanti Region.

From 1999 to 2003, Ms Amankwaa was the Chairperson of the PSWU Regional Council, Ashanti and then the National Vice Chair of the PSWU from 2003 to 2007. Since 2007 she has been the National Chairperson of the PSWU.

She has also been a member of the National Executive Council of the PSWU and Executive Board of the TUC respectively since 1996 and 1999, and the chairperson of the Political Committee of the TUC since 2008.

Education and Employment
Ms Amankwaa attended the T. I. Ahmadiyya Secondary School in Kumasi from 1977 to 1982 when she sat for the ‘O’ Level exam and then proceeded to the Osei-Kyeretwie Secondary School also in Kumasi for her ‘A’ Level.

She obtained a Diploma in Estate Management at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) from 1987 to 1989 and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Social Sciences (Law/Sociology) at the same university between 1996 and 1999.

From 2002 to 2004 Ms Amankwaa was at the University of Ghana, Legon where she studied for a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree and had further studies at the Ghana School of Law from 2004 to 2006.

Ms Amankwaa was called to the bar in 2006 and practises with Sekyere Chambers in Adum, Kumasi.

According to the Ms Amankwaa, she has been working with the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) in Kumasi since its inception. She was appointed a Public Education Officer and rose through the ranks to become a Deputy Director of the NCCE in the Ashanti Region.

Family life
Ms Amankwaa was born on February 2, 1965 to the late Nana Opoku Adusei II, Sawahene and Theresa Akua Afriyie, a former banker. Ms Amankwaa is a twin (the other twin is a male) and has six other siblings.

She is married to Mr Raphael Frimpong Agyei, District Director of Education at New Edubiase, Adansi South in the Ashanti Region and they have two daughters — Adwoa Brayie and Yaa Ofosuah.

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