Thursday, 7 May 2009

Ghana Minister for Women and Children's Affairs Ms Akua Dansua Speaks About Her Term So Far


Ghana Minister for Women and Children's Affairs Ms Akua Dansua

I take a seat in the Ministers waiting room alongside five others. People seem to come and go but still my name isn't called. A lady in a smart grey suit goes around with a notepad finally taking the details of the people waiting. I sit patiently watching BBC Africa on a fuzzy TV. After at least an hour of waiting the man sitting opposite me has fallen asleep whilst the lady on my left keeps nodding off every so often. Meanwhile, the rest of us are just fighting back the boredom and tiredness. After an hour and a half of waiting I ask the secretaries politely when I will be seen. The secretary to the right barely manages to lift her head and responds "just wait".

Finally, after nearly 2 hours of waiting I am called and I follow the secretary as she leads me to Ms Akua Dansua.
Ms Dansua and I

Hi Ms Dansua and thank you for taking the time out to meet with me. What are the main issues you feel are facing women and children in Ghana today?
In the political sector there is a lack of effective representation of women in the decision making process. If you don't have adequate representation you can't influence any decisions on policy, which subsequently have serious repercussions for women which cascade to all other sectors including economic and social.
In the judicial sector most women are ignorant of the laws that exist. Because they do not know about the laws that are there to protect them their rights are not protected. In addition, it is expensive to access legal services and again many women do not know about the legal aid that is available to them. Many of these issues stem from lack of education as many Ghanaian women are illiterate. These I would say are the key issues facing Ghanaian women today.

What are the main challenges you are facing so far and how do you aim to overcome them?
There are a lot of red tapes! We also lack the capacity in terms of human resources to fast track the things we want to do. It is frustrating as we want to do things quickly to help those we represent then realise we lack the financial capacity. We are talking to the government and key individuals to overcome these challenges.

How will your tenure differ from the previous administration?
I came to meet a Ministry that had been running for 8 years. It was a good idea but needed restructuring to suit todays challenges. These challenges include the empowerment of women in the political and economic sectors, reducing teenage pregnancy, child labour and prostitution.

Coming from a Journalist/Media background what made you decide to go into politics and how easy was this transition?
My decision to go into politics was driven by the experiences i had growing up and also in my professional life. Whilst working in Nigeria as a journalist I realised the difficulties facing women. It was a very paternalistic society where women had to work thrice as hard as a man to be treated equally. I participated in a conference in Beijing and this made me decide to go into politics to do something for my country and for women.

As a role model to so many young women, what advice would you give those who want to enter into politics in Ghana?
Nothing is easy for a women in this world. You have to work very hard and persevere. It takes serious commitment. If you know what you want work hard to achieve it. It takes serious sacrifices to move up the ladder as well as taking a toll on your health, family life and leisure. But these sacrifices have to be made in order to bring about real change.

4 comments:

  1. Agnes, thank you for your insight with words. Your ability to ask the right question via your writing shows your ability to pay attention to the world around you.

    I will like to know more about your visit with Ms. Dansua, did she offer her strategy to addressing any of the challenges facing Ghanaian women?

    What about a strategy to start addressing some of the reading issues on a small scale by training the trainers methodology? It works well in Corporate America.

    Could it be that there are leaders that lack skills on how to apply innovative solutions that empowers local community’s leaders to solve some of the reading challenges?

    The ability of leadership to leverage local community talents via knowledge transfer and economy of scale can be a very powerful strategy.

    Does it always has to be financial or is it more of a matter of leadership skill to solve social and business problems.

    Are Ghanaian leaders not capitalizing on local community talents?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, thank you for taking the time out to read the interview with Ms Dansua. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

    Yes she did offer some sort of strategy in this area. However, i got the impression that because of financial barriers there is a problem implementing some of the changes Ms Dansua seeks.

    I believe that not everything has to be financial especially when we are talking about cultivating female leaders within Ghanaian society. Many are already doing wonderful things in their communities but do not get the recognition they deserve.

    If we can raise these women up and hold them as examples within their communities then it will not only create role models for younger girls but also give women the confidence and the reassurance that their contribution to society is not being ignored.

    So on that note I believe that it can be argued that Ghanaian leaders are not capitalizing on local talents enough.

    You have some interesting points which I will raise to Ms Dansua when we next speak and I will share her answers on this blog.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I’m hopeful the indigenous young leaders of tomorrow will emerge with the commitment to be their brothers and sisters keepers. These new leaders like you and your peers will champion social responsibility and the rule-of-law in Ghana.
    Developing countries like Ghana can turn the page on socio-cultural empowerment strategy but, first the young leaders of tomorrow has to stop looking at the old establishment leaders to solve social & business challenges.
    I've been a member of an organization called Technology Entertainment Design ( TED ) for over 9 years. It's a place of innovative ideas from leaders all over the world who really “GET-IT”. The 2007 TED Conference, there was a speaker by the name George Ayittey. His talk really illustrates my point. I encourage others to view his talk online. It’s now available at the TED website.
    Here is the link: (http://www.ted.com/talks/george_ayittey_on_cheetahs_vs_hippos.html ).
    Both, women and men future young leaders of tomorrow must begin the process of thinking like entrepreneurs in this knowledge base global economy. The traditional western business school models (Land, Labor, Natural resources ) factors of production as the catalyst for nations self empowerment has always been to serve the Master whomever that may be at a given country’s leadership.
    Colleges and Universities has been teaching this traditional western business school models and will continue to do so; however, I'm my opinion it was never design to encourage entrepreneurial thinking at the grass root level. It has only been made available to those lucky to attend Business Schools, Colleges and Universities. What then become of those in the developing countries like Ghana that do not have access to such knowledge at the grass-roots?
    The talent did not come from Colleges and Universities. On the contrary it’s the other way around. The grass-root local social contracts developed in the local communities were and still are the catalyst that fosters problem solving skills. Guess what? As far back as 1600’s during the AKAN migrating south from North Africa and after the Asante Kingdom was establish, prior to the arrival of the Portuguese. In my opinion, the leadership did not require western Financial Capital as the primary too for solving socio-cultural challenges. It was the leadership’s ability to communicate common interests and vision that sparked the local communities talented women/men to invest what the Western Business Model called “ SWEAT EQUITY” not Financial Capital. Let us not confuse leaders who lack vision and communication skills to mobilize a community to achieve social common good, as the champions to solving the Ghanaian’s women reading challenges.
    The developing countries indigenous women and men talent for problem solving via collaboration on common interest challenges has always been there at the local-grass-root community level. It's a matter of Paradigm shift should the “HIPPOS” choose to lead. George Ayittey's talk at the 2007 TED Conference was title " CHEETAHS vs. HIPPOS "

    Ghana's young leaders of tomorrow “CHEETAHS” must look in-ward to start the process of identify local talents and build both business and non-business partnerships base on common interest in the communities to solve socio-economic, socio-cultural challenges.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for the TED link. The link you provided initially did not work so i reposted it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/george_ayittey_on_cheetahs_vs_hippos.
    html.

    George Ayittey says some wonderful points and I will be looking out for more of his interviews on the web.

    ReplyDelete

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