Nana Aboagyewaa Asiedu Atuahene, Nkosuohema of Akyem Apedewa, in the Eastern Region, on Thursday said women’s leadership has the potential of becoming a pivotal force for deepening democratic governance in the country.
She said many women leaders has skills, knowledge and the ability to make useful contributions to the socio-economic and political development of the state.
Nana Atuahene was speaking in Accra at the eighth William Ofori Atta Centenary lecture on: “Women and Traditional Leadership in Modern Governance in Ghana”, in Accra on Thursday.
She said with political independence and decolonization, the country has undergone profound changes with women leadership phasing through necessary modifications to make it more relevant to addressing current challenges.
“Some of these changes may contradict long held beliefs and values, thereby crating tension between tradition and modernity. With time these may dissipate and give way to a more consensual atmosphere,” Nana Atuahene said.
She said in the past, women had no place in society and neither their voices, experiences nor ideas were given any significant consideration, adding that the traditional governance and leadership structure were male-dominated even when women were positioned as heads.
Nana Atuahene noted that women constituted the majority of the country’s population and played an essential role in the economy but they had little or no access to key resources.
She suggested that women traditional leaders should be properly empowered to better respond to economic opportunities, gender-based violence, conflict resolution and advocacy among other issues.
Nana Atuahene called for research into customary law and the role of women in Ghanaian culture, and evidence-based solution to problems facing women.
She recommended that local assemblies should liaise and develop cordial relations with traditional authorities to enhance governance process.
Nana Atuahene noted that in the advent of modernization, the function of women traditional leaders could be transformed and integrated into existing local government system or limited advisory capacities.
Professor Irene Odotei, Lecturer, University of Ghana, speaking on: “Traditional Leadership in Modern Ghana: The Historical Perspectives”, said colonial rule drastically transformed the chieftaincy institution by altering the legitimacy and jurisdiction of chiefs.
She said in addition to curtailing the judicial powers of chiefs, the decision of chiefs and their native tribunals were subjected to appeal at the British court, making the latter superior.
She said although colonial rule distorted the chieftaincy institution, problems being faced by the institution should not be attributed to colonialism alone but should be traced to activities of post-colonial governments, chiefs, elders and people.