The Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs was renamed the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection by the outgoing government in 2013. It is safe to expect the incoming government to maintain the ministry and its name and the president-elect has given indication of his willingness to include more women in his government by having a fairly gender-balanced transitional team (there are four women out of the nine members).
However, the person who would eventually replace the outgoing Nana Oye Lithur certainly has huge boots to fill. The Affirmative Action Bill (which has been tabled in Parliament), the National Gender Policy and the expansion of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) program –albeit for election purposes- are some of the success of the outgoing minister.
So, who are those in line to become the next Minister of Gender?
1. Adwoa Safo
Adwoa Safo was a sensation early in her life when she became the youngest qualified lawyer in Ghana. She then went on to become the Member of Parliament for the Dome-Kwabenya Constituency in 2012, taking over from veteran politician Mike Ocquaye. The 35-year-old lawyer has served on the Foreign Affairs and Public Affairs committees in Parliament. She was also the first legal officer of the Public Procurement Authority and worked with the Legal Aid board.
2. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful
Ursula’s outspokenness as a feminist has won her a lot of admiration and condemnation in some quarters. She was a leading advocate for the NPP’s botched affirmative action policy that sought to insulate female MPs from competition within the party itself. There were suggestions that she supported the policy because it was personally beneficial. She also led the barrage of criticism targeted towards fellow MP, Nelson Abudu Baani, after he suggested the stoning of adulterous women. The lawyer has previously worked at the Attorney-General’s office.
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3. Hajia Alima Mahama
This ministry is not uncharted territory for Hajia Mahama as she served previously as minister for four years under the erstwhile Kufuor-administration. Mahama was a Hubert Humphrey fellow between 1999 and 2000 at the Center for Women and Politics (Rutgers University) where she says her interest in politics grew. Alima Mahama is a member of president-elect Nana Akufo-Addo’s transition team responsible for local government affairs. She was highly tipped to become the vice-presidential nominee when Nana Akufo-Addo first run for president (unsuccessfully) in 2008.
4. Abena Osei-Asare
Osei-Asare is one of Ghana’s rising female politicians. The 37-year-old became the first member of parliament for the newly created Atiwa East Constituency in 2012. In previous interviews, she has spoken about her willingness to work towards the eradication of stereotypes and other factors that discourage women from holding themselves up for public office. If she does not get the position, she would be a strong candidate to become deputy minister.
5. Akosua Frema Osei Opare
Akosua Opare has previously been Member of Parliament for the affluent Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency. She is a former deputy minister of Manpower, Youth and Employement under the Kufuor administration and a former university lecturer at the University of Ghana (Department for Home Science). She is also the former country director for Action Aid, an international charity that works in the fields of women rights and education.