A call has been made for government and civil society to encourage and support the Ghanaian girl-child right from secondary through tertiary education. The call was made by Prof. Nana-Akyaa Yao of the National Cardiothoracic Centre and the Department of Child Health of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, when she delivered the Keynote Address at this year’s Ghana Women of Excellence Awards ceremony.
The awards ceremony was orgainsed by Top Brass Ghana to commemorate the celebration in Ghana of International Women’s Day, which is observed worldwide annually on 8th March.
Prof. Nana-Akyaa Yao, who herself is a past recipient of the Ghana Women of Excellence Award, enjoys the reputation of being the first female Paediatric Cardiologist in Ghana. She noted that International Women’s Day has been set aside to draw attention to women, their rights and related issues. This begs the question “Why would the international community set aside a day just to honour women?”
Prof. Yao pointed out that historically, women have been seen as the weaker gender. Describing this as a misnomer and a misrepresentation of the truth, Prof. Yao disclosed that it has been scientifically shown that when it comes to longevity, survival, coping with trauma and stress, women are more robust.
The tragedy, however, according to her, is that women have – intentionally or unintentionally – been disadvantaged across the ages in terms of opportunity, privilege and empowerment. Noting that the Ghanaian woman is no exception to this disadvantaged status, Prof. Yao entreated government to expedite the passage into law of the Affirmative Action Bill, which requires 40 percent representation of women in national governance and public office of power, authority and decision-making.
She stressed that the enactment of the bill into law would give meaning to the provision for women’s empowerment in Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, which enjoins the State to take appropriate measures to achieve reasonable gender balance in recruitment and appointment to public offices.
Prof. Yao lamented that although, by and large, all the governments in Ghana’s 4th Republic have set a target of 30 percent women inclusion, progress toward this target has been rather slow.
She recalled that the UN Sustainable Development Goal Five (SDG5) requires countries to achieve gender parity in decision-making by the year 2030. “Now that we are in 2023, this time frame leaves Ghana only seven years to reach the 50 percent target, so committing our governments to a 40 percent target now as stipulated in the Affirmative Action Bill is not an outrageous or unrealistic demand, but a step in the right direction”, Prof. Yao declared.
A former United Nations World Tourism Organisation Consultant, Nana Dr. Baa Wiredu, who was the Chairman for the occasion commended the award-winners for demonstrating beyond doubt excellence and finesse in their various areas of accomplishment.
He hoped that their achievements would spur the generality of Ghanaian women, especially the younger generation, on to greater heights.
According to Isaac Dakwa, Director of Top Brass Ghana, the Ghana Women of Excellence Awards Scheme is organised under the theme ‘Empowering the Ghanaian Women for National Development’, with the objective to celebrate the achievements of Ghanaian women, to motivate them to strive for excellence, and to set up the illustrious award-winners as role models for the younger generation.
Altogether, 19 (nineteen) meritorious Ghanaian women were honoured at this year’s Awards Dinner, including Ms. Joyce Ababio, Chief Executive, JACCD Design Institute Africa (Entrepreneurship/Education (Fashion Design)); Mrs. Adelaide Ahovy Abbiw-Williams, Chief Executive, SES HD Plus Ghana Limited (Satellite Broadcasting); Prof. Mrs. Goski Alabi, Consulting President, Laweh University College (Education/Tertiary); Dr. Mary Ansong, Chief Executive, International Sickle Cell Centre (Healthcare/Sickle Cell Therapy); Ing. Mrs. Gloria Apenkwah, Project Manager, Ghana Airports Company Limited (Building and Construction/Civil Engineering); and Capt. (Ghana Navy) Veronica Adzo Arhin, Ghana Armed Forces (National Security/Military).
Other award-winners were Mrs. Mawusi Nudekor Awity, Director-General, Ghana Technical and Vocational Education and Training Service (Skills Development); Mrs. Dora Awuah, Executive Director, Dora Awuah Foundation (Healthcare/Mental Health); Ms. Sena Dake, President, Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (Accountancy); Rev. Mrs. Surv. Rosemargaret Esubonteng, President Ghana Institution of Surveyors (Built Environment/Surveying); Mrs. Tucci Goka Ivowi, Chief Executive, Ghana Commodity Exchange (Commodity Trading); and Ing. Dr. Mrs. Enyonam Kpekpena, Project Manager, Electricity Company of Ghana (Building and Construction/Electrical Engineering).
The rest were: Mrs. Sheila Yaa Nyantekyiwah Minkah-Premo, Managing Consultant, Apex Law Consult (Legal Profession/Gender Advocacy); Mrs. Akua Owusu-Nartey, Regional Managing Director, Ogilvy Africa (Advertising); Prof. Mrs. Marian Dorcas Quain, Deputy Director-General, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Scientific Research); Pharm Mrs. Patience Tsegah, Chief Executive, Unicom Chemist Limited (Healthcare/Pharmacy); and Ms. Nana Yaa Twum, Head of Human Resource, Swissport Ghana Limited (Human Resource Management).
The topmost award, the Woman of the Year Award, was conferred on Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, who has the distinction of being the first female Vice-Chancellor of Ghana’s premier tertiary institution, the University of Ghana.