There is never a dull moment in President Nana Akuffo Addo’s political life.
Domestically, he is the target of withering attacks from his political opponents who see him as an inept steward of Ghana’s economy and from some sections of the Ghanaian population who can’t seem to forgive him for reneging on his grandiose campaign promises.
And, as if that didn’t constitute enough trouble for the hapless Mr. Addo, some of his visits overseas have been greeted with demonstrations by a few Ghanaian activists who blame him for enacting shoddy policies that have worsened the financial and economic plight of ordinary Ghanaians back home.
Now Ghanaian feminists are joining the ranks of his avowed critics. In the last couple of days, some have launched scathing and unrelenting verbal assaults on Mr. Addo for allegedly disrespecting Ghanaian women by downplaying and minimizing their role in Ghanaian society.
The multi-pronged attacks it should be noted were drenched in political overtones.
Poor Mr. Addo is reported to have said at the 2019 Women Deliver Conference in Canada that Ghanaian women lack dynamism which explains their inability to bring about changes politically leading to their peripheral status in society and marginalization at all levels.
This was exactly what Mr. Addo said at the conference last week quote: “We are not seeing enough dynamism and activism on the part of those who are seeking. I am talking about dynamism where it matters …electing people to parliament, controlling political parties because they are the instruments by which our societies make decisions.” end quote.
The quote is just a subset of the President’s entire speech at the conference, but it was enough to drive leading feminists in Ghana crazy --- it made them visibly angry and led to questions about Mr. Addo’s commitment to gender equality.
They further accused Mr. Addo of undermining the efforts of women to improve their station in life despite overwhelming odds --- the intransigence of their male counterparts and the unforgiving and inflexible Ghanaian customs and traditions.
Embarrassingly, three female appointees of the President --- the ministers of Communications, Local Government and Foreign affairs came to his defense. They pointed to the number of women in Mr. Addo’s cabinet as evidence of his efforts to give women more opportunities to progress.
Ghanaian feminists do have a point despite the criticism they drew from Mr. Addo’s female ministers. From time immemorial, women in Ghana have been at the forefront of the struggle to level the playing field.
But recognition of their efforts has been sparing and sorely lacking and that unfortunately informed the president’s thinking at the conference in Canada.
One fact that remains indisputable and which the president should have acknowledged in his speech at the conference is that Ghanaian women display dynamism and activism every day.
And this is not confined or restricted to the political realm. In fact, across the spectrum from impoverished rural areas to thriving urban enclaves ---- Ghanaian women, under very trying circumstances, do their utmost to provide and sustain their families albeit with scant resources.
Impressively, these women who happen to be our mothers, aunts, sisters, wives girlfriends and co-workers accomplish this feat without as much as financial or any kind of assistance from the government.
At the end of the day, President Addo deserves the stinging flack/criticism from the Ghanaian feminists.
I am not his adviser, but if I were, I would have admonished him to be frugal with his words. Conferences of this caliber are hyper-sensitive.
Anything you say could be misconstrued. Mr. Addo would have been better off touting the hard work and commitment of women in his country.
Perhaps, he misspoke, or he just couldn’t articulate his thoughts under pressure from a co-panelist. But none of that excuses the presidential blunder.