Address By H.E. Jerry John Rawlings At The 30th Anniversary Ceremony Of The 31st December Women’s Movement – Golden Tulip Hotel, Accra – May 15, 2012
The President of the 31st December Women’s Movement, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, Nananom, Niimei, Naamei, Dr. Mrs. Mary Grant, Rev. Christie Doe Tetteh, Dr Uma Sen, Madam Selena Taylor, members of the Diplomatic Corp, members of the 31st December Women’s Movement, members of the media, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
Thirty years ago, as Ghana pursued the agenda of stopping the decay that had engulfed the country and brought it on its knees, we lived in a man’s world and many believed the journey of transformation was a job too challenging for our women.
However one young woman with the able support of like-minded friends and colleagues, decided the time had come for women to take active and significant part in the socio-economic development of Ghana – especially in the rural areas where women played an important role in the family unit but had little rights as far as decision-making was concerned.
The history of the achievements of the 31st December Women’s Movement, led by this tireless woman and political soul mate, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings has been told a thousand-fold. Today the transformation of women is felt across the country in so many spheres of endeavour.
Women’s rights have been boosted through the adoption of several laws protecting their rights and women have found themselves pursuing various roles that transcend managing the small family unit, to applying modern technology in farming, roles in industry and top management as well as varied positions in national politics. The list is endless.
The DWM stood up for the disadvantaged women of society and together they worked hard in creating modest economic opportunities for women, created awareness of women’s rights and inculcated a sense of self-confidence and self-worth that has today made the Ghanaian woman strong, assertive and equal to men in every sector of society.
Ladies and gentlemen: As we congratulate the DWM we have to appreciate the fact that without women we could not have achieved as much as we did in our political and electoral successes, as they served as the backbone of the campaign structure during the PNDC era, when they were largely instrumental in giving true meaning to the implementation of the economic policies that turned Ghana’s economy around. When the NDC was established, the huge network created by the Movement served as a powerful avenue for propagating the government’s philosophy and ideals and an influential machinery that hoisted the party’s image from 1992 through to 2008.
The current leadership knows it very well but rather than build on the capacity that the Movement brought to the party, they have chosen to exclude them and do worse than our so-called ‘enemies’ were doing between 2000 and 2008.
How can the government in its desire to hold onto political power demean itself in such a crass manner? Can we sustain hope and strength in this depraved political atmosphere?
We have always had to fight against one ‘enemy’ or opposition. If they can behave in a civil way it will be fair to call them opposition but seeing how they rounded up and jailed innocent people and killed others can we be wrong to sometimes describe them as enemies?
This time, however, we are fighting against two enemies – one the perceived enemy and the other one the traitor. We cannot fight both at the same time and therefore one has to go.
How could an NDC government lose its enviable sense of political morality and moral high-ground? This is why some are justified in saying that those in office are not genuinely minded, NDC spirited, NDC-hearted people and want to destroy the party in favour of something else. And so long as they hold onto power and with some of our supporters persistently refusing to see the truth and what should have been done, then it becomes difficult to take back our party.
Ladies and gentlemen: We hear promises of great developmental policies and achievements that will come our way if we vote in certain directions, but the question is which party can restore our values?
We have always won our elections on the power of integrity. Now that they have chosen to monetize everything, how much of a chance do they have, having departed from the weapon and values that sustained our political success?
May 15 is a watershed in more ways than one. 30 years ago the 31st December Women’s Movement was born to create an avenue for women’s emancipation.
Three years earlier on the same date, the pre-cursor to the June 4 took place. My arrest and court martial and the truthful statements I made at the trial made me the focal point of conscience and gave me the leverage to contain the rage and violence that had reached boiling point within the military, the security services and the public at large.
Ghana has come far since 1979 and 1982 and today as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the hard work of our women, let us ponder over the direction we are taking our country. Let us remember the huge sacrifices that many endured for our country.
The culture of political selfishness, greed, thievery and ingratitude has to be exorcised. I said before in 2011 that this year’s elections will create a lot of stress in the country and you are living witnesses to that reality.
Today men are parading and strutting the corridors of power, taking credit for your achievements, including the political and social security of the state when it was most needed. I hope one day when the truth is told this triumph of evil will be reversed.
As we ponder over these matters, allow me to express my heartfelt congratulations to the 31st December Women’s Movement and Ghanaian women for chalking three decades of development in Ghana. Ayekoo.