For most young Ghanaian women, former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings was our first contact with a bold, visible woman, passionate about the affairs of women on the national platform. Even though all I saw was Mrs Rawlings cutting sods and tasting gari on TV, I am told her work with the 31st Women’s Movement changed the lives of many rural women across the country. And she is still working to improve the lives of women and children in Ghana.
This is why in spite of her crude methods, I was happy when she accepted to be the Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Party. The representation of women in Parliament is only 5.2 per cent, the number is even lower when it comes to government appointees. Yet half of Ghana’s population are women.
Gender Advocates blame the absence of capable women in local politics on lack of resources and the insulting nature of politics. So when Mrs Rawlings finally confirmed her intent to contest the upcoming elections, I was happy especially since all the other women in the contest were running mates to male candidates. I welcomed the small attempt to shatter the glass ceiling here.
Sadly, her nomination forms were rejected by the Electoral Commission. The Commission says the forms were full of errors, the NDP claims sabotage by the governing NDC. The stories of sabotage do not interest me as much as the impact of Mrs Rawlings failure to contest on the role of women in governance and the decision-making process and her husband’s status in the NDC.
In Politics, as it is in business, timing, they say is everything and Mrs Rawlings’s timing was poor. The rejection of the nomination forms and the mass resignations show a party with very weak structures. There was no way Mrs Rawlings was going to pull off a spectacular victory on behalf of the women of this country with such structures. There are many women who were going to use her as a test case. Alas, we will never know how many women have been put off by the needless drama. And for a woman who introduced the majority of the women in the NDC into politics, it is disappointing.
Or maybe the rejection is the Universe’s way of telling Madame that quitting the NDC was a stupid decision. The NDC has all the Machinery, her husband is an institution within, and despite the current state of their relationship with the party, had she waited for just four more years, she could have been their candidate. And maybe Ghana’s first President.
Now with some analysts saying she has undermined her husband’s authority in the governing National Democratic Congress by accepting to be the Presidential Candidate of a breakaway party, I’m not sure Mrs Rawlings will ever get back in.
The National Democratic Party is threatening a lawsuit against the EC, I do not know how far that will go but we should applaud Mrs Rawlings for considering a job, very few Ghanaian women will.