Monday, 10 October 2011


I  wrote this piece in 2008. It appeared in my weekly column “Asia 601” in the Graphic Business  newspaper. In the last few days I have had to deal directly with a hospital emergency involving my dearest wife Sylvia because she is a woman. Questions I have been pondering about Ghana’s women and their welfare assumed a far more direct potency and force in the near nightmare I experienced. These questions I will return to in subsequent writings. But this piece I dedicate to Sylvia and all Ghanaian women for being women and all the courage it takes in our Republic. Change must come!!!!!!!!!!

Duafe-The Akan(Ghana) symbol for  femininity
   I am taking poetic license here with the word above. I hope readers will grant me that privilege and in fact bear with me. Writers suffer regularly from what is known as writers block. A situation in which the brain simply switches off and ideas for writing refuse to pop up. In such a bind one has to be creative and think out of the ordinary. That is why the Czechs say that : writing is witchcraft!!! I agree this word cannot be found in any dictionary. It is my own creation and hence the quotation marks and italics. But to be sure the word is derived from a play on the word “humanity,” and reflects my focus in this piece: women.

Traffic in Beijing has reportedly eased after the historic Olympic Games in August this year. Beijing city officials took advantage of the window of opportunity offered by the quest for environmentally clean Games. Beijingers were urged to patronize public transport and a cost was imposed for having your two cars out in town at the same time. The policy has since been in place. I have been caught several times in the grind of Beijing traffic when I visited the capital on my own trysts. Making the trip from the imposing and architectural marvel that the Beijing West Railway Station is to the Diplomatic Enclave (known as Sanlitun where Ghana’s embassy is located) launches you smack into the typical Beijing traffic in the morning and evening rush hours. But the irritation of it all vaporizes watching Chinese women deftly and confidently navigating trams, coaches, double-decker buses and indeed buses of all kinds through the labyrinthine maze of metals on wheels. This sight is replicated across China.

The Chinese say that the woman holds half of heaven. This reflects the importance that women issues have in the Chinese policymakers mind. And on the streets of the China the confident strut of Chinese women cannot be missed decked out as they often are in their trousers!!! Indeed in Asia China’s women are streets ahead of their counterparts in other countries in self actualization. In Japan and Korea the social standing of the Chinese woman is a dream to be pursued. In Singapore the assembling (computers, cameras, etc) industry was built to tap the delicate touch of women in mind. Women’s issues (health, education, career etc.) in China are not simply matters of rhetoric wrapped in patronizing platitudes and vain promises that never get acted upon policy wise. I give an example. There is a women’s and children’s PUBLIC hospital about fifteen minutes walk from my campus. The ambience, the facilities and the service blow the mind. There are escalators and lifts. My heart melts seeing pregnant women all comfy and at ease riding on them. Children have play rooms outfitted with toys to divert their minds from the pain of sickness. The consultation rooms are choked with doctors. And this hospital is not in Shanghai or Beijing or Macau where money literally oozes. It seems the Chinese fashion industry is for women. Women’s bras, panties, clothing and accessories seem to be everywhere and at affordable prices. And by God our beloved women in Ghana are so down on their luck some still settle for second hand panties and bras!!! And this is the reality of those who will bear and nurture the next generation!!!

Ghana’s women deserve a better DEAL. I have been following the discourse on women’s issues in Ghana closely. The Ghanaian ladies leading it are doing their bit. Only that I am sometimes irritated by a discourse that seems to be influenced too inordinately by the Western experience. What we require in Ghana is not a battle of the sexes but a conversation of the sexes. The Ghanaian woman played a vital role in the independence struggle. She has continued to move the Ghanaian economy and lent her silky inimitable skills to running the home. I have been influenced by three women: my mother, my primary school headmistress and my wife. They in their own ways have left deep marks on me I cannot quantify or downplay. We have a Women’s ministry, yes. But its worth will lie in the accelerated progress our women make and in the shortest possible time. Our society should bow its head in shame for the limited support we have offered our women over the decades. In this new century our Republic must rise to this challenge and quickly!!! On this matter some of us will not rest. That is a PROMISE!!!                      

1 comment:

  1. Lloyd,
    I was interested to hear your lecture a few weeks ago on the mis-characterization of Conflict in African states as it relates to gender. You pointed out that reading the issue through the lens of "women are victims" will not result in a complete understanding. Indeed, gender relations are a challenge everywhere.
    Charlie Jackson