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Will Ghana ever have a female president?

Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings
Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings

The just ended US elections which saw Donald Trump defeating his opponent, Hillary Clinton clearly shows that America was not prepared for a female  president.

Most people around the globe who had tipped Clinton to win the elections were awestruck when the final results turned in favour of Trump, making him the 45th President of the US. 

Most people’s dreams to have Hillary as the first female president of America were shattered.

The US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson was cited elsewhere after the US elections as saying, “We thought America was going to have its first female president now but it seems we have to wait till when the American people think it is right.”

Now, if the American people are not ready for a female president with their democracy spanning over 200 years, will Ghana welcome a female president any time soon?

This comparison is necessary because America’s democracy is said to be over 200 years while Ghana’s democracy is very young – only 34 years old.

So how does the future look like with regards to having a female president in Ghana?

The closest Ghana came to having a female candidate was when Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, former First Lady became the flag bearer of the National Democratic Party (NDP) in the 2012 presidential elections.

She was however, disqualified and so could not contest in the 2012 elections because according the Electoral Commission, her presidential forms had not been fully completed.

Akua Donkor, the founder of the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), a farmer who has no formal education, also showed interest in contesting for the presidency as an independent candidate in the 2012 polls. She was also disqualified by the Electoral Commission (EC).

She however, did not give up hopes of contesting to become the first female president of Ghana. She reappeared to contest the 2016 elections and was again disqualified by the EC on the grounds that her nomination forms were fraught with errors.

Mrs. Rawlings, however, got back onto the ballot paper after she got the chance to correct the errors on her nomination forms.

So far in the history of Ghana politics these are the only two women who have attempted standing for the presidency. All other women have been vice presidential candidates.

Africa as a continent has had about eight female presidents or had them serve as interim presidents.

They are as follows:  Slyvie Kinigi: 1993-1994 (Acting Head of State, Burundi), Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri: 2005 and 2008 (Acting President, South Africa), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf:  2006 – Present (President, Liberia), Rose Francine Rogombé: 2009 (Interim President, Gabon).

The others are Agnès Monique Ohsan Bellepeau: 2012 and 2015 (Acting President, Mauritius), Joyce Hilda Banda: 2012 – 2014 (President, Malawi), Catherine Samba-Panza: 2014 (Acting head of state, Central African Republic), Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim: 2015 – Present (President, Mauritius)

It would have been interesting in the light of affirmative action, for Ghana to have a female president, however, Ghana’s position on having a woman as president is not clear, except to say the society is largely religious and patriarchal. 

On that premise, having a female president in Ghana anytime soon seems far-fetched.

Pamela Ofori-Boateng

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