Many have written about the importance of empowering women. They make up a larger number of the world’s population. But are under-represented in education, politics, the economy and almost every facet of national and international life.
According to the UN Women, achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to each of the 17 sustainable development goals. They go on to say that ‘justice and inclusion’ in the world will be realized, ‘only by ensuring the rights of women and girls across all the goals’.
In this regard a lot of well-meaning individuals, the world over, have taken up the mantle to champion the awakening of the inherent but dormant gems in many women.
I covered such an effort by the Excellent Leadership Group. It was the Young African Women’s Congress 2019. Held at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Many high profile individuals spoke to the delegates at the congress. On the second day, Tuesday, 23 July, Ghana’s Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, the first woman to be Chief of Staff in Ghana, was honoured by the organizers as the Model African Woman of the Year, 2019. The First Lady was present. MPs and government officials danced to celebrate her life. For the honouree has made daring exploits.
The delegates at the conference were urged on by the many speakers at the four day event to search for avenues to improve not only themselves but their societies.
These delegates came from 13 countries in the Western, Central and Eastern parts of Africa. All pining for opportunities to excel.
They came to a ‘spring board’, in the words of the Executive Director of the Exla Group, Daniel Tuffour.
I started out on the last day of the event, Thursday, to inquire if the expectations of the delegates were met. The first lady I approached was reluctant to speak up. Eventually, she told me what I wanted to hear. She was empowered and was going to do exploits in her home country, Liberia.
I approached three other ladies and was treated like a roach.
Still probing, I heard from an Ethiopian delegate, who sat with a Ghanaian delegate, that her, ‘expectations were not met’. Before I could probe further, her phone rung. Then I was left with my sister. She said that before she “enrolled” for the event she was asked to choose two topics she was interested in. She chose “women in politics and something about Sustainable Development”. ‘Surprisingly, nothing’ on the latter was discussed. According to her, the speakers on the former, based their remarks on opinions and did not ‘review any literature’.
On the three days I was present, the events never started as scheduled but were albeit, fluid and engaging when started.
Women empowerment needs a more concerted and deliberate effort to aid our African women, stifled by our culture to soar. It must not be turned into an engagement of pomp and less in depth discussions.
By: Kofi Boateng