What the hell is wrong if the President says “we are not seeing enough dynamism and activism" on the part of those who are seeking. I am talking about dynamism where it matters…electing people to Parliament, controlling political parties because they are the instruments by which our societies make decisions" that feminist, activist, opposition are beating themselves to pulp over it?
I was privileged to be right there at the 'Women Deliver' 2019 Conference in Vancouver when President Akufo-Addo made those remarks as a panelist to a discussion.
But even before he could finish his making his submission, Canadian Physician and UN Sustainable Development Goals advocate, Alaa Mubarit, interjected in disagreement, literally stampeding the Ghanaian President in the process to the surprise of many, whiles moderator of the programme, a news anchor on CNN looked on.
Her argument was that the approach should rather be about changing existing systems which have been shaped to deny women the opportunity to get into positions of power. She goes ahead to argue that there are “dynamic, incredible women” that the door remains closed to.
President Akufo Addo could not but retort “we are talking about decisions, not wishes and hopes, we are talking about decisions that are going to make the difference”, thereby provoking a banter between the two with Alaa having to ask “how is the door going to open?”, insisting it was important for male allies in positions of power like the President to recognise the impactful, incredible, dynamic women in the communities, and “amplify them not empower them because they have agency” but “amplify them to put them in positions of power”.
And people, including some in the audience and in Ghana think the President didn't speak well; what's the fuss?
I just can't get my head around it because I see them making the same point except the President is literally saying 'women should and must push a little harder and get into positions of influence and decision making (by dint of hard work through election or whatever qualification of merit), and not wait till a man has to sort of do you a favour because you are a woman', and the point Mubarit makes is that 'no, Mr President, create the enabling environment for women to take advantage of'; and that's their point of departure.
For President Akufo-Addo, a co-chair of the UN Sustainable Development Goal and decorated AU Gender Champion who has well over 30% of women in his government including a first time female Chief of Staff, that's not good enough a push for women, and people have an issue with that and virtually falling over themselves with it?
The noise is too much I can't hear their points of the argument; let somebody tell me what the issues are or maybe.
What I find problematic rather is the seeming disrespect that the activist, an Arab turned Canadian gave our President, stampeding him from making his point and attempting to interject with her hand up to get the attention of the moderator to be given the opportunity to speak whiles the President had the floor.
When this failed, one could see her almost tapping the President's shoulder and shaking her head, wearing strange looks on her face and still attempting to cut in; nothing disrespectful than that and I blame the moderator, because she should have called the lady to order and protected the President from such unruly behaviour.
I was literally seething with anger at the sight and burst out, so an Iranian-turned Canadian environmentalist lady friend I met there asked me why I don't seem happy and I told her my reason and she couldn't but agreed with me that Mubarit was given too much leverage.
Knowing Arabs and their strict culture, I don't think she could have done this to any Arab leader or do this in her native country.
Imagine it was President who tapped her shoulder in a bid to make a point and the controversy it would have generated the world over; they would have said it is haram (an abomination) as they say in Arabic, yet this gender activist had the effrontery to treat our president with utmost contempt and our own countrymen including supposed gender activist, critics and opposition think we should clap for crying out loud?
Let's get serious as a people, because trust me, the lady could not have tried that behaviour on the Canadian Prime Minister who shared the same platform.
But do I blame her, no, the environment (full of gender activist with all their biases) was simply intimidating and unfriendly even though President Akufo-Addo, a man known for his strong opinions and beliefs stood his grounds and I also stand by him.